Original Contribution

EcoHealth

, Volume 9, Issue 2, pp 171-182

First online:

Selenium:Mercury Molar Ratios in Freshwater Fish from Tennessee: Individual, Species, and Geographical Variations have Implications for Management

  • Joanna BurgerAffiliated withDivision of Life Sciences, Rutgers UniversityEnvironmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute, and Consortium for Risk Evaluation with Stakeholder Participation, Rutgers UniversityCenter for Environmental Exposure and Disease Email author 
  • , Michael GochfeldAffiliated withEnvironmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute, and Consortium for Risk Evaluation with Stakeholder Participation, Rutgers UniversityEnvironmental and Occupational Medicine, UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical SchoolCenter for Environmental Exposure and Disease
  • , C. JeitnerAffiliated withEnvironmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute, and Consortium for Risk Evaluation with Stakeholder Participation, Rutgers University
  • , M. DonioAffiliated withEnvironmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute, and Consortium for Risk Evaluation with Stakeholder Participation, Rutgers University
  • , T. PittfieldAffiliated withEnvironmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute, and Consortium for Risk Evaluation with Stakeholder Participation, Rutgers University

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Abstract

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.

Keywords

mercury selenium molar ratios fish interspecific variability risk management