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Human Health Risk from Metals in Fish from Saudi Arabia: Consumption Patterns for Some Species Exceed Allowable Limits

Burger, Joanna, Gochfeld, Michael, Alikunhi, Nabeel, Al-Jahdali, Haitham, Al-Jebreen, Dalal, Al-Suwailem, Abdulaziz, Aziz, Mohammed A. M., Batang, Zenon B.
Human and ecological risk assessment 2015 v.21 no.3 pp. 799-827
United States Environmental Protection Agency, arsenic, carcinogenicity, fish, fish consumption, human health, lead, mercury, methylmercury compounds, people, risk, risk assessment, Europe, North America, Saudi Arabia
Fish are a healthful source of protein, but contaminants in some fish pose a risk. While there are multiple risk assessments from Europe and North America, there are far fewer for other parts of the world. We examined the risks from mercury, arsenic, lead, and other metals in fish consumed by people in Jeddah area, Saudi Arabia, using site-specific data on consumption patterns and metal levels in fish. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Hazard Quotient (HQ) and cumulative Hazard Index (HI) for non-cancer endpoints and Carcinogenic Index for cancer were used to determine the health risk based on fish consumption rates. Of the 13 fish species examined, HQ was greater than 1 (indicating elevated risk) in two species for arsenic, and seven species for methylmercury. The cumulative HI for all metals was above 1 for all but three species of fish at the mean consumption rates. Generally, fish species with HI above 1 for one sampling location, had HI above 1 for all sampling locations. The implications of these findings are discussed in the light of strategies for reducing risk from fish consumption while encouraging dietary intakes of fish with low mercury and arsenic levels.