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J Environ Monit. 2003 Oct;5(5):802-7.

Distribution of mercury in the tissues of five species of freshwater fish from Lake Mead, USA.

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Harry Reid Center for Environmental Studies, University of Nevada Las Vegas, 4505 Maryland Parkway, Box 454009, Las Vegas, NV 89154-4009, USA.


Total mercury (Hg) concentrations were determined in seven tissues (skeletal muscle, liver, blood, gonad, brain, gill, and heart) of 59 striped bass and four tissues (muscle, liver, blood, and gonad) of 69 largemouth bass, 76 channel catfish, 12 bluegill, and 22 blue tilapia collected from Lake Mead, USA. Mercury levels generally increased according to trophic level and fish length. For striped bass, mean Hg levels (ng g(-1), wet mass) were highest in the liver (531), followed by muscle (309), heart (186), gonad (136), brain (77), gill (52), and blood (36). Similarly, Hg levels in the catfish and tilapia were liver > muscle > gonad > blood. In contrast, largemouth bass and bluegill had the highest levels in muscle, followed by liver, gonad, and blood. Generally, Hg levels were strongly correlated among the tissues, especially for blood/muscle and blood/liver. As the body burden of Hg increased, the concentration in blood and organs increased relative to the concentration in muscle. The trend was most pronounced for the liver. These relationships could form the basis of a predictive model and suggest that blood and muscle (plugs) could be useful for a non-lethal measure of Hg concentration and exposure in fish. For the striped bass, elevated Hg levels in the tissues were also correlated with degree of emaciation. Liver-to-muscle ratios were similar to literature values, except for tilapia with an average ratio of approximately 1.7, which is higher than generally reported for non-piscivores. Finally, this study demonstrates the usefulness of a solid sampling approach in trace element monitoring, especially as pertaining to in vivo analysis, analysis of a large number of samples and reduction of contamination risk.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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