Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 19, Issue 6, pp 2088–2095 | Cite as

Lead concentration increase in the hepatic and gill soluble fractions of European chub (Squalius cephalus)—an indicator of increased Pb exposure from the river water

  • Zrinka DragunEmail author
  • Nesrete Krasnići
  • Željka Strižak
  • Biserka Raspor
Research Article



To examine if chronic exposure of feral fish to elevated Pb concentrations in the river water (up to 1 μg L−1), which are still lower than European recommendations for dissolved Pb in surface waters (7.2 μg L−1; EPCEU (Official J L 348:84, 2008)), would result in Pb accumulation in selected fish tissues.


Lead concentrations were determined by use of HR ICP-MS in the gill and hepatic soluble fractions of European chub (Squalius cephalus) caught in the Sutla River (Croatia–Slovenia).


At the site with increased dissolved Pb in the river water, soluble gill Pb levels (17.3 μg L−1) were approximately 20 times higher compared to uncontaminated sites (0.85 μg L−1), whereas the ratio between contaminated (18.1 μg L−1) and uncontaminated sites (1.17 μg L−1) was lower for liver (15.5). Physiological variability of basal Pb concentrations in soluble gill and hepatic fractions associated to fish size, condition, sex, or age was not observed, excluding the possibility that Pb increase in chub tissues at contaminated site could be the consequence of studied biotic parameters. However, in both tissues of Pb-exposed specimens, females accumulated somewhat more Pb than males, making female chubs potentially more susceptible to possible toxic effects.


The fact that Pb increase in gill and hepatic soluble fractions of the European chub was not caused by biotic factors and was spatially restricted to one site with increased dissolved Pb concentration in the river water points to the applicability of this parameter as early indicator of Pb exposure in monitoring of natural waters.


European chub Liver Gills Soluble fraction Lead The Sutla River 



The financial support by the Ministry of Science, Education and Sport of the Republic of Croatia (project no. 098-0982934-2721) is acknowledged. This study was carried out as a part of the Monitoring of freshwater fishery in 2009—Group D, Fishing area Sava River–Sutla River, funded by Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Rural Development of the Republic of Croatia. Special thanks are due to Branko Španović, Dr. Božidar Kurtović, Dr. Damir Kapetanović, Dr. Damir Valić, Dr. Irena Vardić Smrzlić, Dr. Emin Teskeredžić and Dr. Zlatica Teskeredžić for collaboration on the common fish sampling, to Hasan Muharemović for the assistance with graphics, as well as to Dr. Nevenka Mikac and Željka Fiket, B.Sc. for the help with the metal analysis and for the opportunity to use the HR ICP-MS. The authors are grateful to the reviewers for useful suggestions.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zrinka Dragun
    • 1
    Email author
  • Nesrete Krasnići
    • 1
  • Željka Strižak
    • 1
  • Biserka Raspor
    • 1
  1. 1.Division for Marine and Environmental Research, Laboratory for Biological Effects of MetalsRuđer Bošković InstituteZagrebCroatia

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