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Heavy metal concentrations in edible barnacles exposed to natural contamination

Dionísio, M., Costa, A., Rodrigues, A.
Chemosphere 2013 v.91 pp. 563-570
Cirripedia, European Union, arsenic, bioavailability, cadmium, chromium, copper, heavy metals, humans, indicator species, industry, islands, laws and regulations, lead, manganese, muscles, seafoods, selenium, strontium, zinc, Azores
The giant barnacle Megabalanus azoricus is a popular seafood in the Azores. It is mainly caught in coastal environments and sold for domestic human consumption. This species is a filter feeder and can be used as a biomonitor of trace metal bioavailabilities. To investigate consumption safety, the concentrations of 10 trace metals – As, Cd, Cr, Cu, Mn, Pb, Rb, Se, Sr and Zn – were evaluated in 3 body tissues of M. azoricus from 3 sites on 2 islands. There were no significant differences between the metal loads of the barnacles from the different sites. However, the concentrations of the total trace metal loads revealed significant differences among the tissues (cirrus, muscles and ovaries). The concentrations of some metals in the body were not within the safety levels for consumers, based on the allowable standard levels for crustaceans issued by the European Union and of legislations in several countries. Alarming levels of As and Cd were found. Considering the absence of heavy industry in the region, a non-anthropogenic volcanic source was assumed to be the reason for the observed metal levels. Barnacles, in particular M. azoricus, seem to be useful as bioindicators in this peculiar environment.