Risk-Benefit Assessment for Total Mercury, Arsenic, Selenium, and Omega-3 Fatty Acids Exposure from Fish Consumption in Jamaica

  • Phylicia RickettsEmail author
  • Mitko Voutchkov
  • Hing Man Chan


Fish is important in the traditional diet of Jamaicans, and the fishing industry contributes to social and economic development, as well as food security in Jamaica. However, there are associated health risks from contaminant exposure. The aim of this paper was to use risk-benefit analysis methods to determine the best fish species for consumption. Composite samples consisting of 14 fish species were collected from major fishing villages in 2016 and measured for total mercury, arsenic, selenium, and omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA). Food frequency questionnaires were randomly distributed to 400 participants from different locations on the island. Participants were asked to identify the types of fish, portion size, and the frequency of consumption. An estimate of their weight was also recorded. Total mercury concentrations in fish samples ranged from 0.003 to 0.215 μg/g. The range of arsenic concentrations was 0.11 to 7.8 μg/g. The range of selenium concentrations was 0.302 μg/g to 1.08 μg/g. The mean omega-3 fatty acid concentration was 123.1 ± 93.6 mg/100 g. The fish consumption rates range from 3.2 to 1132.8 g/day. Cod fish was the most consumed species at 23.2 g/day. Four risk-benefit analysis methods were able to recommend four fish species that were best for consumption based on the levels of mercury, arsenic, selenium, and omega-3 fatty acids. They were doctorfish, parrotfish, snappers, and cod fish. The results of this study concluded that there was a low risk of mercury exposure from fish consumed in Jamaica.


Risk-benefit assessment Omega-3 fatty acid Jamaica Fish consumption Mercury Selenium 



We would like to thank Emmanuel Yumihoze for the assistance with total mercury, selenium, and total arsenic analysis. We also thank Linda Kimpe for the assistance with fatty acid analysis.

Funding Information

This study was funded by a Commonwealth Science Conference 2017 Follow-On Travel Grant from the Royal Society (CSC\R1\170037).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the University of the West Indies, Mona campus ethics committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Physics, Radioecological LaboratoryThe University of the West Indies Mona campusKingstonJamaica
  2. 2.Department of BiologyUniversity of OttawaOttawaCanada

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