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Mercury accumulation in muscle and liver tissue and human health risk assessment of two resident freshwater fish species in Flanders (Belgium)

Journal Contribution - Journal Article

Subtitle:a multilocation approach
Detrimental effects of chemical pollution-primarily caused by human activities-on aquatic ecosystems have increasingly gained attention. Because of its hydrophobic qualities, mercury is prone to easily bioaccumulate and biomagnify through the food chain, decreasing biodiversity and eventually also affecting humans. In the present study, accumulated mercury concentrations were measured in muscle and liver tissue of perch (Perca fluviatilis) and European eel (Anguilla anguilla) collected at 26 sampling locations in Flemish (Belgian) waterbodies, allowing a comparison of these species within a variety of environmental situations. Furthermore, effects of size and weight have been assessed, expected to influence accumulation and storage of pollutants. Mercury concentrations in perch ranged up to 1.7 mu g g(-1) dw (median: 0.29 mu g g(-1) dw) in muscle and from 0.02 to 0.77 mu g g(-1) dw (median: 0.11 mu g g(-1) dw) in liver tissue. For eel, these concentrations were between 0.07 and 1.3 mu g g(-1) dw (median: 0.39 mu g g(-1) dw) and between 0.08 and 1.4 mu g g(-1) dw (median: 0.55 mu g g(-1) dw) respectively. We found a correlation of accumulated mercury with length in perch, independent of location. Furthermore, a significant difference in accumulated mercury concentrations between the targeted species was measured, with the highest mean concentrations per dry weight in eel liver and muscle tissue. In perch, higher concentrations were found in muscle compared to liver tissue, while in eel, liver tissue showed the highest concentrations. These findings were further considered with concentrations corrected for lipid content, excluding the fat compartment, which is known to a hold negligible portion of the total and methyl mercury concentrations. This confirmed our previous conclusions, except for mercury concentrations in eel. Here there was no longer a significant difference between muscle and liver concentrations. Finally, health risk analyses revealed that only frequent consumption of local eel (> 71 g day(-1)) could pose risks to humans.
Journal: Environmental Science and Pollution Research
ISSN: 0944-1344
Volume: 99
Keywords:A1 Journal article