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Environ Health Perspect. 1978 Aug; 25: 43–45.
PMCID: PMC1637184
Research Article

Ecological aspects of mercury--selenium interactions in the marine environment.


In the marine environment, mercury is accompanied by selenium in all investigated species of mammals, birds, and fish--possibly due to a normal homeostatic regulation. It therefore seems likely that selenium will exert its protective action against mercury toxicity in the marine environment, decreasing its detrimental effects on reproduction, behavior, growth, etc. of the organisms and thus protect the population and ecosystem. On the other hand, the increased retention of mercury caused by selenium may lead to a higher level of biomagnification in the food chain and a higher burden in the individual. This might counteract the positive effect of decreased intoxication.

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Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
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  • Koeman JH, van de Ven WS, de Goeij JJ, Tjioe PS, van Haaften JL. Mercury and selenium in marine mammals and birds. Sci Total Environ. 1975 Jan;3(3):279–287. [PubMed]
  • Ganther HE, Goudie C, Sunde ML, Kopecky MJ, Wagner P. Selenium: relation to decreased toxicity of methylmercury added to diets containing tuna. Science. 1972 Mar 10;175(4026):1122–1124. [PubMed]
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  • Sugiura Y, Hojo Y, Tamai Y, Tanaka H. Letter: Selenium protection against mercury toxicity. Binding of methylmercury by the selenohydryl-containing ligand. J Am Chem Soc. 1976 Apr 14;98(8):2339–2341. [PubMed]
  • Stoewsand GS, Bache CA, Lisk DJ. Dietary selenium protection of methylmercury intoxication of Japanese quail. Bull Environ Contam Toxicol. 1974 Feb;11(2):152–156. [PubMed]
  • Fang SC. Induction of C-hg cleavage enzymes in rat liver by dietary selenite. Res Commun Chem Pathol Pharmacol. 1974 Nov;9(3):579–582. [PubMed]

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