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Environ Sci Technol. 2005 Aug 1;39(15):5703-8.

Total mercury, methyl mercury, and selenium levels in the red meat of small cetaceans sold for human consumption in Japan.

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1
Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Health Sciences University of Hokkaido, 1757 Ishikari-Tobetsu, Hokkaido 061-0293, Japan. endotty@hoku-iryo-u.ac.jp

Abstract

We surveyed the total mercury (T-Hg) and methyl mercury (M-Hg) levels in red meat products (n = 160) from small cetacean species sold for human consumption in markets throughout Japan from 2000 to 2003. Genetic identification showed that the red meat products originated from nine species: false killer whale, bottlenose dolphin, short-finned pilot whale, striped dolphin, rough-toothed dolphin, Risso's dolphin, pantropical spotted dolphin, Baird's beaked whale, and Dall's porpoise. T-Hg and M-Hg concentrations in all red meat products exceeded the provisional permitted levels of T-Hg (0.4 microg/wet g) and M-Hg (0.3 microg/ wet g) in fish and shellfish set by the Japanese government, respectively. The average M-Hg level in the most contaminated species (false killer whale) was 11.5 microg/wet g, and that in the least contaminated species (Dall's porpoise) was about 1.0 microg/wet g, exceeding or equaling the Codex guideline of M-Hg in predatory fishes (1.0 microg/wet g). Contamination levels of T-Hg and M-Hg differed considerably among samples of the nine species and among individuals of a particular species. The highest M-Hg was about 26 microg/ wet g in a sample from a striped dolphin, 87-times higher than the permitted level. The consumption of only 4 g of this product would exceed the provisional tolerable weekly intake of M-Hg for someone of 60 kg body weight (1.6 microg/kg-bw/ week). Although a high correlation between T-Hg and selenium (Se) was observed in these products, the molar ratio of T-Hg to Se was substantially higher than 1. The consumption of red meat from small cetaceans, therefore, could pose a health problem for not only pregnant women but also for the general population.

PMID:
16124305
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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