Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Food Chem Toxicol. 2013 Jul;57:235-45. doi: 10.1016/j.fct.2013.03.021. Epub 2013 Mar 26.

Selenium and mercury molar ratios in commercial fish from New Jersey and Illinois: variation within species and relevance to risk communication.

Author information

  • 1Division of Life Sciences, Rutgers University, 604 Allison Road, Piscataway, NJ 08854-8082, USA.


There is an emerging consensus that people consuming large amounts of fish with selenium:mercury ratios below 1 are at higher risk from mercury toxicity. As the relative amount of selenium increases compared to mercury, risk may be lowered, but it is unclear how much excess selenium is required. It would be useful if the selenium:mercury ratio was relatively consistent within a species, but this has not been the case in our studies of wild-caught fish. Since most people in developed countries and urban areas obtain their fish and other seafood commercially, we examined selenium:mercury molar ratios in commercial fish purchased in stores and fish markets in central New Jersey and Chicago. There was substantial interspecific and intraspecific variation in molar ratios. Across species the selenium:mercury molar ratio decreased with increasing mean mercury levels, but selenium variation also contributed to the ratio. Few samples had selenium:mercury molar ratios below 1, but there was a wide range in ratios, complicating the interpretation for use in risk management and communication. Before ratios can be used in risk management, more information is needed on mercury:selenium interactions and mutual bioavailability, and on the relationship between molar ratios and health outcomes. Further, people who are selenium deficient may be more at risk from mercury toxicity than others.

Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Elsevier Science Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk