Environmental Factors Affecting Metal Levels in Atlantic Mackerel

Greg Howard
15th June, 2024

Environmental Factors Affecting Metal Levels in Atlantic Mackerel

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • The study analyzed heavy metal concentrations in mackerel around the Canary Islands
  • Fish from Tenerife and Gran Canaria had higher levels of aluminum, cadmium, and lead
  • Fish from Lanzarote and Fuerteventura had higher levels of zinc, iron, and copper
Marine pollution is a critical global issue, impacting both ecosystems and human health. One recent study conducted by the University of La Laguna sheds light on the distribution of heavy metals in marine species around the Canary Islands, with significant implications for environmental management and food safety[1]. The study analyzed 140 specimens of Scomber colias, a type of mackerel, collected from the Canary archipelago during the first half of 2021. Researchers measured the concentrations of various metals, including aluminum (Al), zinc (Zn), cadmium (Cd), lead (Pb), iron (Fe), and copper (Cu), using an analytical technique called ICP-OES (Inductively Coupled Plasma Optical Emission Spectrometry). The findings revealed significant variations in metal concentrations among the different islands. Specifically, fish from Tenerife and Gran Canaria exhibited higher levels of Al, Cd, and Pb, while those from Lanzarote and Fuerteventura had elevated levels of Zn, Fe, and Cu. These differences in metal concentrations are likely related to varying levels of human activity and natural phenomena across the islands. For instance, Tenerife and Gran Canaria, which showed higher levels of Al, Cd, and Pb, are more urbanized with greater industrial activities, contributing to higher pollution levels. This aligns with previous findings that urbanization factors such as population density and stormwater drains significantly impact coastal litter and pollution[2]. In contrast, the elevated levels of Zn, Fe, and Cu in Lanzarote and Fuerteventura can be attributed to natural factors such as Saharan dust and African upwelling. These natural events enrich the waters with nutrients and trace elements, influencing the metal content in marine species. This phenomenon was similarly observed in a study of Anemonia sulcata, where sandstorms and upwelling processes led to increased metal concentrations in the anemones[3]. The study's results underscore the importance of continuous monitoring and specific management strategies to mitigate marine pollution. Effective water quality management, especially in urbanized areas, requires identifying the key contributors to pollution. Previous research has shown that drainage connection, the proportion of impervious area connected to streams by pipes or drains, is a significant factor in urban pollutant concentrations[4]. By reducing drainage connection and implementing low-impact urban design, we can minimize the adverse effects of urbanization on marine ecosystems. The accumulation of heavy metals in marine species also raises concerns about food safety. While fish consumption is generally recommended due to its health benefits, the presence of toxic metals like Cd and Pb complicates this narrative. Heavy metals are known to pose significant health risks, including neurological and developmental issues, as highlighted in previous reviews[5]. Therefore, understanding and managing the sources of these contaminants are crucial for ensuring food security and public health. In conclusion, the study by the University of La Laguna provides valuable insights into the distribution of heavy metals in marine species around the Canary Islands. By highlighting the influence of both anthropogenic and natural factors on metal concentrations, the research emphasizes the need for targeted pollution mitigation strategies and continuous environmental monitoring. These efforts are essential for protecting marine ecosystems and ensuring the safety of seafood for human consumption.

EnvironmentEcologyMarine Biology


Main Study

1) Environmental Factors Influencing Metal Concentrations in Scomber colias Along the Canary Islands

Published 14th June, 2024


Related Studies

2) Differentiating littering, urban runoff and marine transport as sources of marine debris in coastal and estuarine environments.


3) Impact of natural events on metal bioaccumulation in Anemonia sulcata.


4) The influence of urban density and drainage infrastructure on the concentrations and loads of pollutants in small streams.

Journal: Environmental management, Issue: Vol 34, Issue 1, Jul 2004

5) Heavy metals: Implications associated to fish consumption.


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