Acta Vet. Brno 2008, 77: 637-643

Mercury and Methylmercury Concentrations in Muscle Tissue of Fish Caught in Major Rivers of the Czech Republic

K. Kružíková1, T. Randák2, R. Kenšová1, H. Kroupová2, D. Leontovyčová3, Z. Svobodová1,2

1Department of Veterinary Public Health and Toxicology, Faculty of Veterinari Hygiene and Ecology, University of Veterinary and Pharmaceutical Sciences Brno, Czech Republic
2Research Institute of Fish Culture and Hydrobiology Vodňany, University of South Bohemia, Czech Republic
3Czech Hydrometeorological Institute Prague

Received February 13, 2008
Accepted June 11, 2008

The aim of the study was to evaluate mercury contamination at twelve outlet sites of rivers in the Czech Republic (Labe, Ohře, Vltava, Berounka, Sázava, Otava, Lužnice, Svratka, Dyje, Morava and Odra). As an indicator, we used muscle tissue of the chub (Leuciscus cephalus) caught at selected sites in 2007. A total of 96 fish were examined. Total mercury was determined by atomic absorption spectrophotometry using the AMA 254 analyzer and methylmercury was determined by gas chromatography with electron-capture detection. Total mercury (THg) and methylmercury (MeHg) concentrations ranged 0.039–0.384 mg kg-1 fresh weight and 0.033–0.362 mg kg-1 fresh weight, respectively. Mercury bound in methylmercury (HgMe) made up on average about 82.2% of total mercury. The highest mercury concentrations were found in fish from Obříství, a site on Labe (THg 0.263 ± 0.086 mg kg-1; MeHg 0.256 ± 0.084 mg kg-1). Mercury concentrations in fish from rivers that cross the borders of the Czech Republic (Labe, Odra and Morava) were low. The Czech Republic therefore does not contribute significantly to river pollution outside its national borders. Hazard indices of the sites monitored were well below 1, and reached 1.365 only in Obříství on Labe for fisherman’s family members (i.e. in the case of annual consumption of 10 kg fish). This indicates possible hazards involved in eating meat of fish caught in that location. Based on PTWI for methylmercury, the maximum amount of fish meat allowed for consumption per week was calculated. The site with the lowest value was Obříství on Labe (0.44 kg). The results of this study present a partial contribution to health risk assessment on the major rivers in Czech Republic.