Unexpectedly high mercury level in pelleted commercial fish feed

Authors

  • Monica Heekyoung Choi,

    Corresponding author
    1. Nalco Chemical Company, Environmental Health and Safety, One Nalco Center, Naperville, Illinois 60563, USA
    • Nalco Chemical Company, Environmental Health and Safety, One Nalco Center, Naperville, Illinois 60563, USA
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  • Joseph J. Cech Jr.

    1. Department of Wildlife, Fish, and Conservation Biology, University of California, Davis California 95616, USA
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Abstract

An unexpectedly high mercury (Hg) level was found in a pelleted commercial fish feed used to feed fish in laboratory and fish farm settings. Mean total Hg (T-Hg) concentration in the commercial fish pellets was 66 ppb (ranging from 35 to 90 ppb). Mean total selenium (T-Se) concentration in the pellets was 1,120 ppb (ranging from 790 to 1,360 ppb). Total Hg and Se in the whole blood of Sacramento blackfish and in the fish feed were determined by inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (ICP-MS). During a 10-week sampling period T-Hg in blood fluctuated between 35 and 56 ppb. A highly significant, positive correlation (r = 0.99, p < 0.01) was found between T-Hg in the fish blood and in the fish feed through the sampling period. On the other hand, no correlation was found between T-Se in the fish feed and T-Hg or T-Se blood level. Researchers working with fish in Hg studies need to know that fish pellets may contain Hg and to consider the influence of these pellets in their results.

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