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Drought promotes increases in total mercury and methylmercury concentrations in fish from the lower Paraíba do Sul river, southeastern Brazil

Azevedo, L.S., Pestana, I.A., Rocha, A.R.M., Meneguelli-Souza, A.C., Lima, C.A.I., Almeida, M.G., Bastos, W.R., Souza, C.M.M.
Chemosphere 2018 v.202 pp. 483-490
Crenicichla, Oligosarcus, Pimelodella, Pimelodus fur, bioaccumulation, climate, correlation, drought, fish, humans, mercury, methylation, methylmercury compounds, rain, risk, rivers, watersheds, Brazil
Bioaccumulation of mercury and methylmercury in fish represents a serious risk to human beings. Extreme climate events like droughts may increase the trophic transfer of contaminants and net methylation of mercury. The present study assessed the influence of the 2014 drought on total mercury and methylmercury levels in fish from the lower Paraiba do Sul river basin. Contaminant levels were compared for Pimelodus fur, Pachyurus adspersus, Pimelodella lateristriga, Oligosarcus hepsetus, and Crenicichla lacustris captured in five sites in 2013 (N = 212) and 2014 (N = 231). The results indicate that levels of contaminants were higher during the drought in most species. Rainfall was weakly and negatively correlated with total mercury levels in most of the species. The weak relationship between these two variables was due to the indirect influence of rainfall on mercury bioaccumulation. In summary, drought increased the levels of two contaminants in fish.