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Total and methylmercury residues in tuna-fish from the Mediterranean sea

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This study was carried out to determine the current levels of total mercury and methylmercury in the muscle tissue of albacore (Thunnus alalunga) and bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus) caught in the Mediterranean sea with the purpose of ascertaining whether the concentrations exceeded the maximum level fixed by the European Commission Decision. Total mercury concentrations ranged from 0.84 to 1.45 mg kg-1 w.w. (av. 1.17 mg kg-1 w.w.) and from 0.16 to 2.59 mg kg-1 (av. 1.18 mg kg-1 w.w.) in the muscle of albacore and bluefin tuna, respectively. In 78.6% of albacore and in 61.1% of bluefin tuna analysed, total mercury concentrations exceeded the maximum level fixed by the European Commission Decision (Hg = 1 µg g-1 wet wt). In the two species, mercury was present almost completely in the methylated form, with percentages between 77 and 100% (av. 91.3%) in albacore and between 75 and 100% (av. 91%) in bluefin-tuna. In order to assess the potential health impact, the estimated weekly intake was calculated. The estimated weekly intake was far above the established Provisional Tolerable Weekly Intake for both species.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2002

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