Selenium:Mercury Molar Ratios in Freshwater Fish from Tennessee: Individual, Species, and Geographical Variations have Implications for Management
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- Burger, J., Gochfeld, M., Jeitner, C. et al. EcoHealth (2012) 9: 171. doi:10.1007/s10393-012-0761-y
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Vertebrates, including humans, can experience adverse effects from mercury consumed in fish. Humans often prefer large predatory fish that bioaccumulate high mercury levels. Recent attention has focused on the role of selenium countering mercury toxicity, but there is little research on the selenium:mercury molar ratios in freshwater fish. We examine selenium:mercury molar ratios in freshwater fish from Tennessee at Poplar Creek which receives ongoing inputs of mercury from the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge Y-12 facility. Our objective was to determine variation of the ratios within species that might affect the protectiveness of selenium against mercury toxicity. Within species, the ratio was correlated significantly and positively with fish length only for two species. There was great individual variation in the selenium:mercury molar ratio within each species, except striped bass. The lack of a clear relationship between the selenium:mercury molar ratio and fish length, and the intraspecific variation, suggests that it would be difficult to use the molar ratio in predicting either the risk from mercury toxicity or in devising consumption advisories.