Aquaculture production continues to grow in West Bengal, where on average people consume 8.2 kg capita−1 of fish each year, and an extensive mosaic of aquaculture ponds has developed along the River Hugli as clay pits are repurposed. The adjacent brickworks and industry (especially tanneries) are a source of environmental pollution, with potential for bioaccumulation of potentially harmful elements (PHEs) in fish farmed in these ponds. Fish from aquaculture present an opportunity to meet food sufficiency in West Bengal; however, an investigation to assess their effectiveness for micronutrient supply balanced against food safety is required. Five ponds close to industrial brick manufacture (urban) and three from rural areas were assessed for the degree of pollution within their pond sediments and waters. Fish were also sampled from each location including a subset from the market in Kolkata to determine the concentrations of PHEs in their fish muscle tissue. Dietary intake and PHE loading were calculated for four fish species to evaluate their nutrient content with respect to recommended daily intakes for adults, e.g. calcium (Ca), potassium (K), magnesium (Mg), iron (Fe), zinc (Zn) and selenium (Se), and to establish whether the provisional maximum tolerable intakes (PMTIs) are exceeded for PHEs, e.g. aluminium (Al), arsenic (As), mercury (Hg), chromium (Cr), tin (Sn), copper (Cu) and lead (Pb). Preliminary results suggest that aquaculture is making an important contribution to nutrition, with fish being a good source of Se. However, in contrast to small wild-caught fish, aquaculture fish in the present study were poor sources of Fe, Ca and Zn. The fish also made substantial contributions (> 10%) to the PMTI of Hg and As. Therefore, there is an urgent need for ongoing monitoring and an expanded sampling programme, as well as research into approaches which might improve the nutritional quality of the farmed fish.
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The authors would like to thank Martin Smith from BGS Global and also the Centre of Environmental Geochemistry for funding, in addition to the collaboration facilitated through funding from the Royal Society International Exchange scheme (2010/R3 REF: JP101357). This work is published with the permission of the Executive Director of the British Geological Survey (UKRI).
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Marriott, A.L., Kelly, T.J., Sarkar, S.K. et al. Elemental composition of aquaculture fish from West Bengal, India: nutrition versus food safety. Environ Geochem Health 42, 1211–1228 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10653-019-00401-8
- Mercury (Hg)
- Toxic metals
- Brick kilns