An assessment of selenium to mercury in greeland marine animals

  • Dietz R
  • Riget F
  • Born E
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Information on mercury and selenium molar relation in muscle, liver and kidney tissue of Greenland marine animals is presented. In the majority of the samples selenium was present in a molar surplus to mercury. This was most clear in molluscs, crustaceans, fish and seabirds. A 1:1 molar ratio was found in tissues of marine mammals with Ž . high mercury concentrations above approx. 10 nmolrg . This was most clearly demonstrated for liver and kidney tissue of polar bear and for ringed seal with high mercury concentration in the liver. These findings support previous results found in liver tissue of marine mammals, suggesting that methyl mercury is detoxified by a chemical mechanism involving selenium. If the anthropogenic release of mercury to the environment increases in the future due to increasing energy demands, species such as polar bears and seals with high tissue mercury concentrations should be monitored to elucidate whether this protective mechanism can be maintained in target organs. ᮊ

Author-supplied keywords

  • Greenland
  • Marine animals
  • Mercury
  • Molar relation
  • Selenium

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  • R Dietz

  • F Riget

  • E W Born

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