Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
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.

Author information

Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Health Sciences University of Hokkaido, 1757 Ishikari-Tobetsu, Hokkaido 061-0293, Japan.


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.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Loading ...
    Support Center