Increasing concerns have been raised about the toxicity of mercury (Hg) to humans, especially for those that consume a great amount of fish. High Hg concentrations have previously been measured in Amazonian waterbodies, both resulting from natural and anthropogenic sources. However, few studies have been conducted so far in Amazonian lakes that are fished by local populations. In addition, few of those studies included methylmercury (MeHg), the most toxic and bioaccumulative Hg form, and evaluated the influence of physico-chemical conditions and season on Hg dynamics. In the present study, total Hg (THg) and MeHg concentrations were measured in bottom sediment as well as in two fish and two crocodile species of the Amazonian Cuniã Lake. Bottom sediment MeHg concentrations were higher in the dry season than in the wet season, which is related to differences in physico-chemical (pH and electrical conductivity) conditions. Diet appeared to be related with animal tissue MeHg concentrations, with the herbivorous fish having lower MeHg levels than the predatory fish and crocodiles. Based on the measured tissue concentrations and published data on local person weight and fish consumption, MeHg risk to Cuniã Lake populations was estimated. Although the MeHg fish tissue concentrations did not exceed national and international standards, a significant risk to the local population is anticipated due to their high fish consumption rates. [Figure not available: see fulltext.].
- Environmental distribution
- Human risk assessment