• Assessment of total mercury and methyl mercury in selected subsistence fish in Western Alaska

      Zhang, Xiaoming; Duffy, Lawrence K.; Kelly, John J.; Naidu, Satyanarayan (2001-08)
      Total Hg (THg) and methylmercury (MeHg) were examined in muscle and liver samples of salmon species (Chinook: Oncorhynchus tshawytscha; Chum: O. keta; Sockeye: O. nerka; Coho: O. kisutch) and freshwater fish species (Pike: Esox lucius; Grayling: Thymallus arcticus; Whitefish: Caregonus nelsoni) collected in 1999 and 2000 from the Western Alaska rivers (Yukon, Kuskokwim, Nushagak and Kvichak). The THg in salmon muscles has a mean value of 62 ng/g (ww). In Pike muscles, THg has a mean value of 879 ng/g. The mean concentrations of THg in Grayling and Whitefish muscle are 153 ng/g and 32 ng/g respectively. In salmon muscle and liver the MeHg levels constitute 77% and 62% of the THg levels, respectively. In Pike muscle the MeHg levels constitute 100% of the THg levels. A significant correlation between Hg levels and fish length was found. Calculated consumption limits indicate that children may consume 0.05-1.5 kg of fish per month, depending on the species consumed. The study suggests that, from 1979 to 1998, nearly 21 kg of MeHg was transported by Sockeye salmon to the Alaskan rivers of the Bering Sea east coast.