Cadmium, mercury, zinc and selenium in ringed seals (Phoca hispida) from Greenland and Svalbard
Keywords:ringed seals, Phoca hispida, contaminants, heavy metals, pollutants
Muscle, liver, and kidney tissue from 456 ringed seals (Phoca hispida) from eight areas in Greenland were analysed for cadmium, mercury, zinc and selenium. In general, cadmium concentrations were high in liver and kidney tissue, with geometric means of 7.79 and 33.5 μg/g (all data on wet weight basis), respectively. Muscle levels were considerably lower, at 0.067 μg/g. The concentration of mercury was relatively high in liver tissue with a geometric mean of 2.59 μg/g. Muscle and kidney mercury levels were somewhat lower, with geometric means of 0.210 and 0.956 μg/g, respectively.
Cadmium and mercury levels were strongly dependent upon age and sampling area, as well as the interaction combinations, indicating that the accumulation of cadmium and mercury varies with age and area. Mercury accumulated in all three tissues throughout life, whereas cadmium in liver and kidneys peaked in the age group 5-10 years old where after it dropped significantly.
Cadmium levels showed a tendency towards higher concentrations in the northern municipalities, which may be due to the higher cadmium levels in certain prey items in the northern areas. Mercury levels were higher in seals from East Greenland compared to West Greenland. Variations in feeding habits probably explain some of the differences in levels of cadmium and mercury in ringed seals from different geographical areas.
Cadmium concentrations were correlated (both pairwise and partial) in the three organs. This was true for mercury as well, whereas only half of the combinations were significant for zinc and selenium. Cadmium was strongly correlated to mercury in all three tissues and zinc only in liver and kidneys. Mercury was only correlated to selenium in liver and not to zinc.
High concentrations of cadmium were found in the bile from 58 ringed seals, and were about 10-fold higher than in muscle. The concentration of mercury in bile was relatively low, being only one third of the muscle level. The bile levels reflect that substantial amounts of especially cadmium are circulated through the bile. However, it is uncertain whether these amounts are actually excreted or reabsorbed in the intestine (enterohepatic circulation).
How to Cite
Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:
- Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (See The Effect of Open Access).