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Patterns of mercury and methylmercury bioaccumulation in fish species downstream of a long-term mercury-contaminated site in the lower Ebro River (NE Spain)

AuthorsCarrasco Llamas, Luis ; Barata Martí, Carlos; García-Berthou, Emili; Tobías, Aurelio; Bayona Termens, Josep María; Díez, Sergi
Issue Date2011
PublisherPergamon Press
CitationChemosphere 84 (11): 1642-1649 (2011)
AbstractSince the 19th century, large amounts of industrial waste were dumped in a reservoir adjacent to a chlor-alkali plant in the lower Ebro River (NE Spain). Previous toxicological analysis of carp populations inhabiting the surveyed area have shown that the highest biological impact attributable to mercury pollution occurred downstream of the discharge site. However, mercury speciation in fish from this polluted area has not been addressed yet. Thus, in the present study, piscivorous European catfish (Silurus glanis) and non-piscivorous common carp (Cyprinus carpio) were selected, to investigate the bioavailability and bioaccumulation capacities of both total mercury (THg) and methylmercury (MeHg) at the discharge site and downstream points. Multiple Correspondence Analysis (MCA) was applied to reduce the dimensionality of the data set, and Multiple Linear Regression (MLR) models were fitted in order to assess the relationship between both Hg species in fish and different variables of interest. Mercury levels in fish inhabiting the dam at the discharge site were found to be approximately 2-fold higher than those from an upstream site; while mercury pollution progressively increased downstream of the hot spot. In fact, both THg and MeHg levels at the farthest downstream point were 3 times greater than those close to the waste dump. This result clearly indicates downstream transport and increased mercury bioavailability as a function of distance downstream from the contamination source. A number of factors may affect both the downstream transport and increased Hg bioavailability associated with suspended particulate matter (SPM) and dissolved organic carbon (DOC). © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.
Identifiersdoi: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2011.05.022
issn: 0045-6535
e-issn: 1879-1298
Appears in Collections:(IDAEA) Artículos
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