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Persistent toxic substances in Mediterranean aquatic species

July 25, 2014

Fish and fishery products may represent one of the main sources of dietary exposure to persistent toxic substances (PTSs) such as polychlorinated dibenzodioxins, dibenzofurans, and biphenyls; polybromodiphenyl ethers; organochlorine pesticides; perfluorooctanoic acid and perfluorooctane sulfonate; and inorganic mercury and methyl mercury. In this study, PTS contamination of Mediterranean fish and crustaceans caught in Italian coastal waters was investigated in order to increase the representativeness of the occurrence database for wild species. The objectives were to verify the suitability of regulatory limits for PTSs, identify background concentrations values, if any, and examine the possible sources of variability when assessing the chemical body burdens of aquatic species. Twelve wild species of commercial interest and two farmed fish species were chosen. Excluding methyl mercury, chemical concentrations found in wild species fell generally towards the low ends of the concentration ranges found in Europe according to EFSA database and were quite lower than the tolerable maximum levels established in the European Union; farmed fish always showed contamination levels quite lower than those detected in wild species. The data obtained for wild species seemed to confirm the absence of local sources of contamination in the chosen sampling areas; however, species contamination could exceed regulatory levels even in the absence of specific local sources of contamination as a result of the position in the food web and natural variability in species’ lifestyle. A species-specific approach to the management of contamination in aquatic organisms is therefore suggested as an alternative to a general approach based only on contaminant body burden. A chemical-specific analysis performed according to organism position in the food chain strengthened the need to develop this approach.

Miniero R, Abate V, Brambilla G, Davoli E, De Felip E, De Filippis SP, Dellatte E,  De Luca S, Fanelli R, Fattore E, Ferri F, Fochi I, Rita Fulgenzi AR, Iacovella N, Iamiceli AL, Lucchetti D,  Melotti P, Moret I, Piazza R, Roncarati A, Ubaldi A, Zambon S, di Domenico A, 2014: Persistent toxic substances in Mediterranean aquatic species, Science of the Total Envirobment, 494-495, 18-27, doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2014.05.131. Article (subscription required).

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