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Total mercury in fresh and processed tuna marketed in Galicia (NW Spain) in relation to dietary exposure

Abstract

Mercury is a toxic trace metal, which can accumulate to levels threatening human and environmental health. In this study, contents of total mercury have been determined by ICP-MS spectrometry in fresh and processed tuna (110 samples) purchased from supermarkets in NW Spain. Mercury was present in all samples analyzed; however, only one sample of fresh tuna (1.070 mg kg−1 wet weight (w.w.)) slightly exceeded the limit of the EU (1.0 mg kg−1 w.w.). The average mercury concentration in processed tuna was lower than fresh, 0.306 mg kg−1 w.w., and ranged from 0.080 to 0.715 mg kg−1 w.w. Results were compared with literature data. In regard to the three types of preparation-packaging media for canned tuna, total Hg content was found in the following order: olive oil > natural > pickled sauce; the last showed significant statistical differences (p < 0.01) with the other two preparations. Between the two evaluated canned tuna species, significant statistical differences (p = 0.008) were observed and Thunnus alalunga presented a greater mean content (0.332 ± 0.114 mg kg−1 w.w.) compared to Thunnus albacares (0.266 ± 0.171 mg kg−1 w.w.).Taking into account the AESAN recommendation for adults and children, as well as the EU regulations and the tuna consumption by the Spanish population, the Hg levels obtained in this study pose no risk to consumer health. However, additional studies, a monitoring process, and efforts to reduce Hg concentration in tuna would be necessary, as well as considering other sources of exposure to Hg.

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García, M.Á., Núñez, R., Alonso, J. et al. Total mercury in fresh and processed tuna marketed in Galicia (NW Spain) in relation to dietary exposure. Environ Sci Pollut Res 23, 24960–24969 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-016-7634-9

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Keywords

  • Mercury
  • Fresh tuna
  • Processed tuna
  • Preparation media
  • ICP-MS
  • Risk assessment
  • Spain