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Cd, Pb and Hg Biomonitoring in Fish of the Mediterranean Region and Risk Estimations on Fish Consumption

Centre of Toxicology Sciences and Research, Division of Morphology-Medical School University of Crete, Vassilika Vouton, Heraklion 12258, Crete, Greece
Environmental, Genetic and Nutritional Epidemiology Research Center, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Reggio Emilia 42122, Italy
Department of Pharmaceutical Toxicology, Faculty of Pharmacy, Istanbul University, Beyazit-Istanbul 34116, Turkey
Swiss Centre for Applied Human Toxicology, Universität Basel, Basel CH-4056, Switzerland
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Toxics 2014, 2(3), 417-442;
Received: 3 March 2014 / Revised: 21 July 2014 / Accepted: 6 August 2014 / Published: 18 August 2014
(This article belongs to the Collection Heavy Metals Toxicology)
PDF [823 KB, uploaded 19 August 2014]


Cadmium (Cd), lead (Pb) and mercury (Hg) are toxic metals with increasing interest due to their tendency to bioaccumulate in fish tissue which may pose a threat to human health via fish consumption. This review of the recent literature on Cd, Pb, Hg levels summarizes data of fish biomonitoring studies in the Mediterranean Sea in order to determine potential risks due to dietary intake of metals. The analytical methods applied are described, with Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy and Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectroscopy being the most popular. Most of the literature reviewed is focused on the Eastern Mediterranean. Results from the studies indicate that metals mostly accumulate in liver, followed by muscle. Although there are few studies reporting metal levels in fish exceeding the maximum residue levels (MRLs), the bulk of the studies cite levels below the MRLs. The hazard index (HI) of fish consumption, namely the ratio of estimated weekly intake to provisional tolerable weekly intake (EWI/PTWI) was estimated for adult consumers and no risk emerged. The EWI/PTWI ratios of lead and mercury for Italy (0.14 and 0.22 respectively) represent the highest HI levels estimated. In view of maximizing the benefits while minimizing the risks of fish consumption, a more detailed fish-specific database on intakes for consumers is required and extended bimonitoring in as many regions as possible. View Full-Text
Keywords: cadmium; lead; mercury; fish; Mediterranean; human exposure cadmium; lead; mercury; fish; Mediterranean; human exposure

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Renieri, E.A.; Alegakis, A.K.; Kiriakakis, M.; Vinceti, M.; Ozcagli, E.; Wilks, M.F.; Tsatsakis, A.M. Cd, Pb and Hg Biomonitoring in Fish of the Mediterranean Region and Risk Estimations on Fish Consumption. Toxics 2014, 2, 417-442.

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