Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology

, Volume 25, Issue 4, pp 415–421

Gut contents: A significant contaminant of Mytilus edulis whole body metal concentrations


  • William E. Robinson
    • Environmental Sciences ProgramUniversity of Massachusetts—Boston
  • David K. Ryan
    • Department of ChemistryUniversity of Massachusetts—Lowell
  • Gordon T. Wallace
    • Environmental Sciences ProgramUniversity of Massachusetts—Boston

DOI: 10.1007/BF00214329

Cite this article as:
Robinson, W.E., Ryan, D.K. & Wallace, G.T. Arch. Environ. Contam. Toxicol. (1993) 25: 415. doi:10.1007/BF00214329


Ingested matter can have a significant effect on whole body metal concentration measurements in Mytilus edulis. Depuration of mussels in clean seawater for 36 h prior to dissection eliminates most of these contaminating gut contents. Depuration followed by metal analyses is the most direct method of determining mussel tissue metal bioburdens. After being transplanted into a plume of primary treated sewage effluent in Salem Harbor, Massachusetts for 32 days, Al, Cr, and Fe concentrations in depurated mussels were significantly lower than those determined for either non-depurated mussels or for depurated mussels to which fecal concentrations of Al, Cr, and Fe were added back in. Although mathematical methods developed by both Ouellette (1978) and Boehm et al. (1988) could be applied to non-depurated mussels in order to correct for errors associated with gut metal contamination, these indirect methods were not as reliable as depuration prior to analysis.

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© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1993