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Concentration and Exposure Assessment of Mercury in Commercial Fish and Other Seafood Marketed in Oman


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The results of this study present analytical data of the mercury levels in several fish and shellfish species to create awareness among individuals of the risks associated with consuming fish contaminated with mercury. Mercury concentrations varied from a mean of 0.02 mg/kg in Indian mackerel to 0.19 mg/kg in shark in both fresh and frozen fish, from 0.02 mg/kg in sardines to 0.18 mg/kg in skipjack tuna in canned fish, and from 0.02 mg/kg in Indian mackerel to 0.79 mg/kg in shark in dried fish. Shellfish contained a slightly higher amount of mercury than fresh or frozen fish with a mean of 0.09 mg/kg. Trophic position, followed by habitat, was the most important factors for variability in mercury concentrations in fish and shellfish. The maximum safe weekly intake (MSWI) values of mercury were significantly higher for herbivores than for carnivores. The MSWI value for total mercury in the case of consuming most (72%) fish species was more than 5 kg; however, the MSWI value was never more than 5 kg in most (66%) shellfish species. Risks were identified upon consumption of 120 g of dried shark when exceeding the provisional tolerable weekly intake threshold (1.6 μg/kg) for methylmercury. Therefore, fish-eating populations should reduce the quantity of dried shark to efficiently diminish the exposure to mercury.

Practical Application

Fish and other seafood are the main sources of mercury poisoning in humans. The data presented in this study could allow consumers to understand the amount of seafood that is safe to eat. Although the study indicated that mercury from fish consumption was minor, the potential risk from consumption of dried shark was high; therefore, strategies should be adopted to decrease the consumption of dried shark to safeguard the health of consumers.

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