Environmental health and toxicology

Determination and assessment of total mercury levels in local, frozen andcanned fish in Lebanon

Pierre J Obeid , Bilal El-Khoury , Joanne Burger , Samer Aouad , Mira Younis , Amal Aoun , John Hanna El-Nakat


Received October 07, 2010,Revised December 23, 2010, Accepted , Available online

Volume 23,2011,Pages 1564-1569

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Fish is an important constituent of the Lebanese diet. However, very little attention in our area is given to bring awareness regarding the effect of the toxicity of mercury (Hg) mainly through fish consumption. This study aimed to report analytical data on total mercury levels in several fish species for the first time in thirty years and to also made individuals aware of the presence and danger from exposure to mercury through fish consumption. Fish samples were selected from local Lebanese markets and fisheries and included 94 samples of which were fresh, frozen, processed, and canned fish. All values were reported as microgram of mercury per gram of fish based on wet weight. The level of mercury ranged from 0.0190 to 0.5700 g/g in fresh samples, 0.0059 to 0.0665 g/g in frozen samples, and 0.0305 to 0.1190 g/g in canned samples. The data clearly showed that higher levels of mercury were detected in local fresh fish as opposed to other types thus placing consumers at higher risk from mercury exposure. Moreover, the data revealed that Mallifa (yellowstripe barracuda/Sphyraena chrysotaenia), Sargous (white seabream/Diplodus sargus), Ghobbos (bogue/Boops boops), and shrimp (Penaeus sp.) were among the types containing the highest amounts of mercury. On the other hand, processed fish such as fish fillet, fish burger, small shrimp and crab are found to contain lower levels of mercury and are associated with lower exposure risks to mercury. Lebanese population should therefore, be aware to consume limited amounts of fresh local fish to minimize exposure to mercury.

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