Mercury, silver, selenium and other trace elements in three cyprinid fish species from the Vaal Dam, South Africa, including implications for fish consumers

Christof Plessl, Beric M. Gilbert, Martin F. Sigmund, Sarah Theiner, Annemariè Avenant-Oldewage, Bernhard K. Keppler, Franz Jirsa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The levels of Cr, Cu, Zn, Se, Ag, Cd, Hg, and Pb were determined in muscle and liver samples from 30 specimens of fish belonging to the species Labeobarbus aeneus, Labeobarbus kimberleyensis, and Labeo umbratus from the Vaal Dam. Health risks for human fish consumers were estimated using the target hazard quotient (THQ), the Se:Hg-ratio, and Se health benefit value (Se HBV). This is the first comprehensive report on Hg levels in fish from this lake. Mean concentrations ranging from 0.247–0.481 mg/kg dw in muscle and from 0.170–0.363 mg/kg dw in liver clearly show a contamination with this element. Although levels in muscle did not exceed maximum allowances for human consumption, a calculated THQ of 0.12 and 0.14 for the two Labeobarbus species, respectively, showed a potential risk due to additive effects. All Se:Hg-ratios as well as Se HBVs clearly suggested positive effects for fish consumers. Levels of Cu were remarkably high in the liver of L. umbratus, calling for further investigation on this species. Cadmium levels were above the maximum allowances for fish consumption in the liver of all three species (means between 0.190 and 0.460 mg/kg dw), but below the LOD in all muscle and intestine samples. This is also the first report of Ag in fish from South Africa. Levels were below the LOD in muscle, but well detectable in liver; they varied significantly between the two Labeobarbus species (0.054 ± 0.030 and 0.037 ± 0.016 mg/kg dw) compared to L. umbratus (1.92 ± 0.83 mg/kg dw) and showed a positive correlation with Cu levels (63.7 ± 17.0; 70.3 ± 9.0 and 1300 ± 823 mg/kg dw), possibly due to similar chemical affinities to metallothioneins. The detected Ag levels can serve as a basis to monitor the development of this new pollutant in aquatic environments in South Africa and worldwide.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1158-1167
Number of pages10
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Volume659
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2019

Keywords

  • Freshwater reservoir
  • Heavy metals
  • Labeo umbratus
  • Labeobarbus aeneus
  • Labeobarbus kimberleyensis
  • Se-HBV

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution

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