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Keywords:

  • Arsenic speciation;
  • Fish tissue;
  • Fish advisories

Abstract

Sampling was conducted in 2002 to determine the total concentration and chemical speciation of arsenic in several marine fish and shellfish species collected from the Delaware Inland Bays and the Delaware Estuary, both of which are important estuarine waterbodies in the US Mid-Atlantic region that support recreational and commercial fishing. Edible meats from summer flounder (Paralicthys dentatus), striped bass (Marone saxatilis), Atlantic croaker (Micropogonias undulates), and hard clam (Mercenaria mercenaria) were tested. Total arsenic was highest in summer flounder, followed by hard clam, then striped bass, and finally, Atlantic croaker. Total arsenic was higher in summer flounder collected during the spring, as these fish migrated into the Inland Bays from the continental shelf, compared with levels in summer flounder collected during the fall, after these fish had spent the summer in the Inland Bays. Similarly, striped bass collected in the early spring close to the ocean had higher total arsenic levels compared with levels detected in striped bass collected later during the year in waters with lower salinity. Speciation of arsenic revealed low concentrations (0.00048–0.02 μg/g wet wt) of toxic inorganic arsenic. Dimethylarsinic acid was more than an order of magnitude greater in hard clam meats than in the other species tested, a finding that was attributed to arsenic uptake by phytoplankton and subsequent dietary uptake by the clam. Risk assessment using the inorganic arsenic concentrations was used to conclude that a fish consumption advisory is not warranted.