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Organotropism of methylmercury in fish of the southeastern of Brazil

Azevedo, L.S., Almeida, M.G., Bastos, W.R., Suzuki, M.S., Recktenvald, M.C.N.N., Bastos, M.T.S., Vergílio, C.S., de Souza, C.M.M.
Chemosphere 2017
Oligosarcus, Pimelodella, Pimelodus fur, bioaccumulation, diet, eating habits, environmental factors, fish, fungicides, fur, gills, gold, liver, mercury, methylmercury compounds, mining, muscles, omnivores, pollutants, rivers, sediments, stream channels, tissues, Brazil
This is one of the first studies to evaluate the effect of biometric variables (total length and weight), diet, and abiotic matrices (sediment and water column) on the bioaccumulation of methylmercury in tissues (muscle, liver, and gills) of four fish (two carnivore-invertivores, Pimelodus fur and Pachyurus adspersus; one carnivore-piscivore, Oligosarcus hepsetus; and one omnivore, Pimelodella lateristriga) in the lower section of a river in southeastern Brazil. Samples of fish (n = 120), water (n = 5) and sediment (n = 5) were collected at five sites characterized by pollution with mercury due to the use of organomercury fungicides and stream bed gold mining, commonly carried out in that section of the river in the 1980s. The results show that biometric variables are strongly correlated with methylmercury levels in muscle (r = 0.61, p < 0.0005) of P. fur. As a rule, concentrations of total mercury and methylmercury did not vary considerably between the organs of the species of different food habits, because of the environmental conditions in the study area. Despite the low concentrations of mercury in sediments (<0.05 mg kg−1 wet. wt), this compartment is a representative source of this pollutant for the organisms investigated, due to the close contact these animals keep with it in view of the low water columns in that section of the river.