Contamination, exposure, and health risk assessment of Hg in Pakistan: A review

Sajid Rashid, Izaz Ali Shah, Roberto Xavier Supe Tulcan, Wajid Rashid, Mika Sillanpaa

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)


Mercury is a highly toxic and highly mobile heavy metal. It has been regarded as more toxic than other nonessential and toxic nonradioactive heavy metals. Moreover, it has a high tendency of bioaccumulation and biomagnification in the ecosystem. This study aimed to assess the environmental and health risks related to Hg. Seventy studies related to Hg in environmental media, aquatic biota, and food stuffs across Pakistan were reviewed, and their concentrations were used for ecological and human health risk assessments. High concentrations of Hg were reported in the environment, with maximum concentrations of 72 mg L−1, 144 mg kg−1, 887 mg kg−1, and 49,807 ng m−3 in surface water, surface soil, surface sediments, and urban atmosphere, respectively. The possible non-carcinogenic health risk (hazard quotient) of Hg was assessed in soil, water, and fish. High risks were calculated for seafood and vegetable consumption, while low risks were estimated for soils and groundwater ingestion and exposure. Overall, children showed higher risks than adults. Last, the risk quotient analysis (RQ) revealed significant risks for aquatic species. RQs showed that multiple species, especially those with smaller resilience, could face long-term detrimental impacts. High, medium, and low risks were calculated from 66.66, 16.17, and 16.17% of the reported Hg concentrations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number118995
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
Publication statusPublished - 15 May 2022


  • Bioaccumulation
  • Biomagnification
  • Hazardous impacts
  • Hg exposure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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