Spatial variability of mercury and polyunsaturated fatty acids in the European perch (Perca fluviatilis) – implications for risk-benefit analyses of fish consumption

Ursula Strandberg, Marjo Palviainen, Aslak Eronen, Sirpa Piirainen, Ari Laurén, Jarkko Akkanen, Paula Kankaala

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

This study evaluated the spatial variability of risks and benefits of consuming fish from humic and clear lakes. Mercury in fish is a potential risk for human health, but risk assessment may be confounded by selenium, which has been suggested to counterbalance mercury toxicity. In addition to the risks, fish are also rich in eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which are known to be beneficial for cardiovascular health and brain cognitive function in humans. We found that the concentrations of EPA + DHA and mercury in European perch (Perca fluviatilis) vary spatially and are connected with lake water chemistry and catchment characteristics. The highest mercury concentrations and the lowest EPA + DHA concentrations were found in perch from humic lakes with high proportion of peatland (30-50%) in the catchment. In addition, the ratio of selenium to mercury in perch muscle was >= 1 suggesting that selenium may counterbalance mercury toxicity. The observed variation in mercury and EPA + DHA content in perch from different lakes indicate that the risks and benefits of fish consumption vary spatially, and are connected with lake water chemistry and catchment characteristics. In general, consumption of perch from humic lakes exposed humans to greater risks (higher concentrations of mercury), but provided less benefits (lower concentrations of EPA + DHA) than consumption of perch from clear lakes. (C) 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
Volume219
Pages (from-to)305-314
Number of pages10
ISSN0269-7491
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 1172 Environmental sciences
  • Docosahexaenoic acid
  • Eicosapentaenoic acid
  • Catchment characteristics
  • Selenium
  • Boreal lakes
  • FRESH-WATER FISH
  • METHYL MERCURY
  • BOREAL LAKES
  • PLANKTIVOROUS FISH
  • LAND-USE
  • SELENIUM
  • TISSUE
  • METHYLMERCURY
  • FINLAND
  • HEALTH

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