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Levels of Mercury and Polychlorobiphenyls in Bluefin Tuna from the Western Mediterranean Sea: A Food Safety Issue?

March 12, 2014

In this paper, the presence and amount of mercury and polychlorobiphenyls (PCBs) were determined in 23 bluefin tuna samples collected in the spring of 2012 in Porto Scuso (South West Sardinia, Italy) and Villa Putzu (South East Sardinia, Italy) in order to assess the current levels of these two contaminants in fish muscle and the consequent risk to humans consuming said fish. Values of polychlorobiphenyls in bluefin tuna muscle vary between 0.155 and 1.403 mg/kg f.w.; the average of PCBs in tuna muscle is 0.732 mg/kg f.w. With regard to PCBs the presence of more elevated concentrations is confirmed in larger fish. The results regarding mercury in muscle show an average of 0.660 mg/kg f.w. and mercury values vary between 0.140 f.w. and 2.211 mg/kg f.w.; for mercury as well, the highest concentrations were found in the largest bluefin tuna. Six samples, 26% of total, contained more than 1 mg/kg f.w., which is the maximum level set by the European Commission (EC, Regulation n. 1881/2006) for this species. Mercury, in particular methylmercury, poses a risk to public health, therefore, taking into account the important nutritional contribution that tuna fish makes to the diet, it is advisable that women of childbearing age, pregnant and breastfeeding women as well as young children strictly limit their consumption of tuna from this area of the Mediterranean.

Renzi M, Cau A, Bianchi N, Focardi SE, 2014: Levels of Mercury and Polychlorobiphenyls in Bluefin  Tuna from the Western Mediterranean Sea: A Food  Safety Issue? Journal of Environmental Protection, 5, 106-113, doi:10.4236/jep.2014.52014. Article.

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