TitleSelenium: Mercury Molar Ratios in Freshwater Fish in the Columbia River Basin: Potential Applications for Specific Fish Consumption Advisories.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsCusack, LK, Eagles-Smith, C, Harding, AK, Kile, ML, Stone, D
JournalBiol Trace Elem Res
Date Published2017 Jul

Fish provide a valuable source of beneficial nutrients and are an excellent source of low fat protein. However, fish are also the primary source of methylmercury exposure in humans. Selenium often co-occurs with mercury and there is some evidence that selenium can protect against mercury toxicity yet States issue fish consumption advisories based solely on the risks that methylmercury pose to human health. Recently, it has been suggested the selenium: mercury molar ratio be considered in risk management. In order for agencies to utilize the ratio to set consumption guidelines, it is important to evaluate the variability in selenium and mercury in different fish species. We examined 10 different freshwater fish species found within the Columbia River Basin in order to determine the inter- and intra-specific variability in the selenium: mercury molar ratios and the selenium health benefit values. We found significant variation in selenium: mercury molar ratios. The mean molar ratios for each species were all above 1:1, ranging from 3.42:1 in Walleye to 27.2:1 in Chinook salmon. There was a positive correlation between both mercury and selenium with length for each fish species apart from yellow perch and rainbow trout. All species had health benefit values greater than 2. We observed considerable variability in selenium: mercury molar ratios within fish species collected in the Columbia River Basin. Although incorporating selenium: mercury molar ratios into fish consumption holds the potential for refining advisories and assessing the risk of methylmercury exposure, the current understanding of how these ratios apply is insufficient, and further understanding of drivers of variability in the ratios is needed.

Alternate JournalBiol Trace Elem Res
PubMed ID27928722