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Arch Environ Contam Toxicol. 2002 Oct;43(3):309-17.

Mercury concentrations in fish from Lake Mead, USA, related to fish size, condition, trophic level, location, and consumption risk.

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University of Nevada-Las Vegas, Harry Reid Center for Environmental Studies, 4505 Maryland Parkway, Las Vegas, Nevada 89154-4009, USA.


Total mercury (Hg) concentrations were determined in the skeletal muscle of 339 fish collected during the fall of 1998 and spring of 1999 from Lake Mead, USA, the nation's largest human-made reservoir. Five species of fish representing a range of trophic levels and the lake's principal game fishes were studied. Hg generally increased with trophic level and fish size. Median Hg concentrations (ng/g wet mass) were 277 in striped bass, 168 in channel catfish, 160 in largemouth bass, 75 in bluegill, and 8 in blue tilapia. Overall, fish from Las Vegas Bay and Boulder Basin had the lowest Hg concentrations, possibly a result of biodilution in this biologically productive area. In general, fish-mercury advisories might include a warning about consuming fillet from emaciated fish, based on the finding that Hg concentrations in 59 striped bass (captured during a scarce-food season) correlated inversely ( r = -0.89, p < 0.001) with a fish nutritional-status factor. This is consistent with starvation-concentration, whereby Hg in fish muscle is lost at a slower rate than the muscle mass. The median concentration found for 139 striped bass corresponds to a recommended risk-based consumption limit of three 8-oz. (227-g) meals per month for a 70-kg adult. Finally, this paper serves as a useful archive for future research and long-term studies of Hg in Lake Mead fish.

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