Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) and striped mullet (Mugil cephalus) as vectors of contaminants to human consumers in northwest Florida

September 2, 2011

The health benefits of regular consumption of fish and seafood have been espoused for many years. However, fish are also a potential source of environmental contaminants that have well known adverse effects on human health. We investigated the consumption risks for largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides; n = 104) and striped mullet (Mugil cephalus; n = 170), two commonly harvested and consumed fish species inhabiting fresh and estuarine waters in northwest Florida. Skinless fillets were analyzed for total mercury, inorganic arsenic, polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and polychlorinated dibenzofurans (PCDD/F), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and organochlorine pesticides. Contaminant levels were compared to screening values (SV) calculated using U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommendations for establishing consumption advisories. Largemouth bass were found to contain high levels of total mercury at all sampling locations (0.37–0.89 ug/g) and one location exhibited elevated total PCBs (39.4 ng/g). All of the samples exceeded Florida fish consumption advisory trigger levels for total mercury and one location exceeded the U.S. EPA SV for total PCBs. As a result of the high mercury levels, the non-cancer health risks (hazard index–HI) for bass were above 1 for all locations. Striped mullet from several locations with known point sources contained elevated levels of PCBs (overall range 3.4–59.3 ng/g). However, total mercury levels in mullet were low. Eight of the 16 mullet sampling locations exceeded the U.S. EPA SV for total PCBs and two locations exceeded an HI of 1 due to elevated PCBs. Despite the elevated levels of total PCBs in some samples, only two locations exceeded the acceptable cancer risk range and therefore cancer health risks from consumption of bass and mullet were determined to be low at most sampling locations.

Publication Year 2011
Title Largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) and striped mullet (Mugil cephalus) as vectors of contaminants to human consumers in northwest Florida
DOI 10.1016/j.marenvres.2011.06.003
Authors Natalie K. Karouna-Renier, Richard A. Snyder, Ted Lange, Suzanne Gibson, Jeffrey G. Allison, Matthew E. Wagner, K. Ranga Rao
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Marine Environmental Research
Index ID 70005314
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Patuxent Wildlife Research Center; Contaminant Biology Program