Elemental Composition and Health Risk of Deep-Sea Fish in the Levantine Basin

Jenn Hoskins
7th July, 2024

Elemental Composition and Health Risk of Deep-Sea Fish in the Levantine Basin

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • The study by Mersin University analyzed metal(loid) levels in 23 deep-sea fish species from Mersin Bay, NE Levantine Basin
  • Arsenic and iron were found in the highest concentrations, while cadmium had the lowest levels among the fish species
  • Health risk assessments showed that estimated daily and weekly intakes of metal(loid)s were below FAO and WHO tolerable limits, but arsenic posed a non-carcinogenic risk
Understanding the levels of metal(loid) contamination in deep-sea fish is crucial for assessing potential health risks associated with their consumption. A recent study conducted by Mersin University aimed to determine the concentrations of various metal(loid)s (including arsenic (As), iron (Fe), aluminum (Al), strontium (Sr), zinc (Zn), lead (Pb), manganese (Mn), copper (Cu), chromium (Cr), and cadmium (Cd)) in the muscle tissue of 23 different deep-sea bony fish species sampled off Mersin Bay in the NE Levantine Basin[1]. The study also assessed the health risks these metal(loid)s pose to humans. The researchers used inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) to measure the metal(loid) concentrations in the fish tissue. The results showed statistically significant differences in metal(loid) levels among the fish species, with the highest levels found in the species C. sloani. Arsenic and iron had the highest concentrations, while cadmium had the lowest. The study found that some metal(loid)s had synergistic effects, meaning their combined presence could amplify their impact, whereas iron had an antagonistic effect with cadmium, potentially reducing its toxicity. To assess the health risks, the study converted the metal(loid) concentrations from dry weight to wet weight and used standard formulas to determine estimated daily and weekly intakes. The findings indicated that these intakes were below the tolerable limits established by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO). However, the target hazard quotient (THQ)—a measure of non-carcinogenic risk—exceeded the safety threshold of 1 only for arsenic. Furthermore, the target cancer risk (TCR) was below tolerable limits for most metal(loid)s except for arsenic, cadmium, and aluminum. This study aligns with previous research that has highlighted the presence of heavy metals in aquatic organisms and their associated health risks. For instance, a paper analyzing heavy metals in various aquatic species across China found significant differences in metal concentrations depending on the organism, location, and season[2]. The study noted that crabs in certain regions posed a high risk of cadmium exposure, with average levels exceeding national limits. Similarly, another study focused on deep-sea fish in the Mediterranean found high levels of mercury, particularly in species inhabiting deeper waters, suggesting a potential risk for human consumers[3]. These findings are consistent with the current study's observation of varying metal(loid) levels among different fish species and the associated health risks. Moreover, the current study's findings on the antagonistic effect of iron on cadmium align with earlier research that examined metal detoxification mechanisms in deep-sea fish. A study on Mediterranean deep-sea fish found that species employed different strategies to handle metal toxicity, including the use of metallothionein proteins and elements like selenium and zinc[4]. These detoxification mechanisms are crucial for understanding how fish mitigate the harmful effects of metal exposure, which in turn affects the levels of metals that accumulate in their tissues and pose risks to human health. In summary, the study by Mersin University provides valuable insights into the levels of metal(loid) contamination in deep-sea fish from Mersin Bay and the associated health risks. The findings underscore the importance of continuous monitoring and risk assessment to ensure the safety of seafood consumption. By building on previous research, this study enhances our understanding of metal(loid) contamination in marine environments and its implications for public health.

EnvironmentHealthMarine Biology


Main Study

1) Elemental Composition and Health Risk Assessment of Deep-Sea Teleost’s of the Levantine Basin

Published 6th July, 2024


Related Studies

2) Heavy metal concentrations in aquatic organisms (fishes, shrimp and crabs) and health risk assessment in China.


3) New insights into mercury bioaccumulation in deep-sea organisms from the NW Mediterranean and their human health implications.


4) The role of metallothionein and selenium in metal detoxification in the liver of deep-sea fish from the NW Mediterranean Sea.


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