Chemical Forms of Mercury in Blue Marlin Billfish: Implications for Human Exposure

Type Article
Date 2021-05
Language English
Author(s) Manceau Alain1, Azemard Sabine2, Hédouin Laetitia3, Vassileva Emilia2, Lecchini David3, Fauvelot Cecile4, 7, Swarzenski Peter W1, Glatzel Pieter5, Bustamante Paco6, Metian Marc2
Affiliation(s) 1 : Université Grenoble Alpes, CNRS, ISTerre, F-38000 Grenoble, France
2 : International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Environment Laboratories, MC-98000, Monaco
3 : Laboratoire d’Excellence CORAIL, F- 66100 Perpignan, France; PSL Research University, EPHEUPVD- CNRS, CRIOBE, F-98729 Moorea, French Polynesia
4 : Sorbonne Université, CNRS, Laboratoire d’Océanographie de Villefranche, F-06230 Villefranche-sur-Mer, France
5 : European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF), F-38000 Grenoble, France
6 : La Rochelle Université, CNRS, Littoral Environnement et Sociétés (LIENSs), F-17000 La Rochelle, France
7 : Laboratoire d’Excellence CORAIL, F- 66100 Perpignan, France; IRD, Université de la Réunion, CNRS, IFREMER, Université de la Nouvelle-Calédonie, ENTROPIE, F-06230 Villefranche-sur-Mer, France
Source Environmental Science & Technology Letters (2328-8930) (American Chemical Society), 2021-05 , Vol. 8 , N. 5 , P. 405-411
DOI 10.1021/acs.estlett.1c00217
WOS© Times Cited 15

Although fish is an important source of nutrients, including some of the healthiest proteins, long-chain fatty acids, and essential selenium, species at the top of the food chain frequently contain large amounts of toxic mercury (Hg). The provisional tolerable weekly intake (PTWI) of Hg from fish consumption is calculated from the total concentration of Hg and assuming that all Hg is speciated as organic methylmercury (MeHg). Using high energy-resolution X-ray absorption near-edge structure (HR-XANES) spectroscopy, we show that blue marlin (Makaira sp.), a common top predator consumed by humans, contains high concentrations of inorganic Hg(II) complexed as 57 ± 10% Hg-tetraselenolate [Hg(Sec)4] and 43 ± 10% tiemannite (HgSe). The stable Hg–Se chemical bond likely attenuates the bioavailability of Hg and counteracts some of its health hazards to consumers. Thus, monitoring the concentration of MeHg, rather than total Hg, in top predators such as marlin would provide a more robust measure of potential Hg exposure and may be sufficient for food safety controls. The bonding of Hg atoms to four selenocysteine (Sec) residues in the Hg(Sec)4 complex severely depletes the stock of bioavailable Se, and quantification shows that blue marlin is not a chief source of dietary Se essential to selenoenzyme synthesis and activity.

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Manceau Alain, Azemard Sabine, Hédouin Laetitia, Vassileva Emilia, Lecchini David, Fauvelot Cecile, Swarzenski Peter W, Glatzel Pieter, Bustamante Paco, Metian Marc (2021). Chemical Forms of Mercury in Blue Marlin Billfish: Implications for Human Exposure. Environmental Science & Technology Letters, 8(5), 405-411. Publisher's official version : , Open Access version :