Determining mercury levels in anchovy and in individuals with different fish consumption habits, together with their neurological effects

CAMUR D., Guler C., Vaizoglu S. A. , Ozdilek B.

TOXICOLOGY AND INDUSTRIAL HEALTH, vol.32, no.7, pp.1215-1223, 2016 (Journal Indexed in SCI) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 32 Issue: 7
  • Publication Date: 2016
  • Doi Number: 10.1177/0748233714555393
  • Page Numbers: pp.1215-1223


An increase in enviromental pollution may lead to mercury toxicity of fish origin due to the accumulative nature of methylmercury in fish. The main sources of human exposure to organic mercury compounds are contaminated fish and other seafoods. This descriptive study was planned to determine mercury levels in anchovy and in hair samples from individuals with different fish consumption habits, and to evaluate those individuals in terms of toxic effects. For that purpose, we analyzed 100 anchovies from the Black Sea and 100 anchovies from the Sea of Marmara, and assessed 25 wholesale workers in fish markets and 25 cleaning firm employees from both Ankara and Istanbul. Mercury levels in samples were measured using a cold vapor atomic absorption spectrophotometer. Participants were examined neurologically and mini mental state examination was applied to evaluate their cognitive functions. Mercury levels in fish were found to be below the national and international permitted levels. There was no statistically significant relation between mercury levels and the sea from which fish were caught. Hair mercury levels for all participants were within permitted ranges. However, hair mercury levels in both cities increased significantly with amount and frequency of fish consumption. A significant correlation was determined at correlation analysis between levels of fish consumption and hair mercury levels in the fishmongers and in the entire group (r = 0.32, p = 0.025; r = 0.23, p = 0.023, respectively). Neurological examination results were normal, except for a decrease in deep tendon reflexes in some participants in both cities. There was no correlation between Standardized Mini Mental State Examination results and hair mercury levels. We conclude that establishing a monitoring system for mercury levels in fish and humans will be useful in terms of evaluating potential neurotoxic effects.