Bioconcentration and biomagnification of mercury and methylmercury in North Sea and Scheldt estuary fish
Baeyens, W × Leermakers, M Papina, T Saprykin, A Brion, N Noyen, J De Gieter, M Elskens, M Goeyens, Leo #
Archives of environmental contamination and toxicology vol:45 issue:4 pages:498-508
Total Hg and MMHg concentrations were assessed in more than 350 fish and shellfish samples. Hg concentrations in Greater North Sea fish of prey range from 0.039 mg kg(-1) wet weight (ww; for ray) to 0.61 mg kg(-1) ww (for dogfish) and for all other fish species, from 0.045 mg kg(-1) ww (for plaice) to 0.33 mg kg(-1) ww (for sand sole), with 95 +/- 2% of the Hg content in the MMHg form. In Belgian coastal zone, fish concentrations range from 0.063 mg kg(-1) ww for plaice to 0.13 mg kg(-1) ww for flounder, with 82-87% of the Hg content in the MMHg form. In fish of the Scheldt, which is a very polluted estuary, Hg levels, as well as the percent MMHg of the total Hg, were lower than in the two zones previously mentioned. The intraspecies variability is of the order of 50% in each of the three zones. In liver tissue, a much larger variability was observed than in muscle tissue, except for fish species of the Scheldt. In most cases, the MMHg fraction in a particular fish species is inversely related to the intraspecies variability. Bioconcentration and biomagnification factors (BCF and BMF, respectively) were assessed. MMHg-BMFs were a few orders of magnitude higher than Hg(inorganic)-BMFs, and for the same species were always highest in the Greater North Sea and lowest in the Scheldt. For each of the Belgian coastal zone four species, a weak positive correlation between Hg content and fish length was found; however, the larger the size-range, the better the correlation. Taking fish length into account, a statistically significant difference in contamination level was observed for species sampled from the different geographical zones.