Mercury concentrations in sediments and oysters in a temperate coastal zone: a comparison of farmed and wild varieties

Md Moklesur Rahman, Eunji Jung, Sangwoo Eom, Woojin Lee, Seunghee Han

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Oyster aquaculture has progressively increased to meet growing demands for seafood worldwide; however, its effects on methylmercury (MeHg) production in sediment and accumulation in oysters are largely unknown. In this study, total Hg (THg) and MeHg in sediments collected from aquaculture and reference sites and in farmed and wild oysters were measured and compared to explore potential factors that regulate MeHg production and bioaccumulation at the aquaculture sites. The results showed that the mean concentrations of THg and MeHg in varying sediment depths at the aquaculture site were 34 ± 4.1 ng g−1 and 16 ± 12 pg g−1, respectively. In comparison, the mean concentrations of THg and MeHg in sediments at the reference site were 25 ± 2.5 ng g−1 and 63 ± 28 pg g−1, respectively. While the MeHg/THg in the aquaculture sediments increased with organic carbon content, the slope of MeHg/THg versus organic carbon content was suppressed by high concentrations of dissolved sulfide in the pore water. Multiple parameters (total sulfur, total nitrogen and acid volatile sulfide in sediment, and dissolved sulfide in pore water) showed significant negative relationships with MeHg/THg in the sediment, and the total sulfur content in the sediment showed the highest inverse correlation factor with MeHg/THg (r = − 0.83). The mean concentrations of THg and MeHg in farmed oysters (mean weight 3.2 ± 1.5 g) were 36 ± 10 ng g−1 and 15 ± 6.7 ng g−1, respectively, while those in wild oysters (mean weight 0.92 ± 0.32 g) were 47 ± 9.9 ng g−1 and 15 ± 6.7 ng g−1, respectively. Concerning oysters of the same size range, THg and MeHg levels were higher in farmed oysters than in wild oysters despite the faster growth rate of farmed oysters, suggesting that the Hg content of food sources is more important than growth dilution rates in the control of Hg levels. The mean hazardous quotient for MeHg in farmed oyster was calculated as 0.044 ± 0.020, suggesting no expected health risk from farmed oyster consumption.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109810-109824
Number of pages15
JournalEnvironmental Science and Pollution Research
Volume30
Issue number50
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2023

Keywords

  • Aquaculture
  • Bioaccumulation
  • Growth dilution
  • Methylmercury
  • Oyster
  • Sulfur

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

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