Evaluation of heavy metal accumulation and associated human health risks in three commercial marine fish species from the Aegean Sea, Türkiye

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Engin Artar
Mine Percin Olgunoglu
Ilkan Ali Olgunoglu


Aegean Sea, gonad, heavy metal, human health, marine fish, muscle tissue


This study investigates the presence and concentrations of ten specific heavy metals in the muscle tissues and gonads of three commercially important marine fish species: Garfish (Belone belone), European barracuda (Sphyraena sphyraena), and Anglerfish (Lophius piscatorius) collected from the Aegean Sea in Türkiye. The results indicate variations in metal accumulation, both between genders and among species. The fish species tend to accumulate higher levels of heavy metals in their gonads than in muscle tissues (p<0.05). While Cr, Cd, and Pb were not detected, Zn, Cu, and Fe are the predominant metals in muscle tissues due to their essential biological roles. However, within toxic elements, Hg was predominant, and L. piscatorius, a benthic fish, exceeded its recommended safety limits. A health risk assessment suggests that except for L. piscatorius, consuming these fish species from the Aegean Sea is generally safe, with estimated weekly intake (EWI) values below permissible limits. Total Hazard Quotient (THQ) values for most metals are below 1, indicating no significant non-carcinogenic health risks for consumers. This study emphasizes the critical need for regularly monitoring heavy metal levels in marine fish from the Aegean Sea, Turkiye. While overall safety in consuming these fish is highlighted, exceptions exist, notably concerning Hg levels in L. piscatorius. Therefore, persistent monitoring of heavy metal concentrations, especially in L. piscatorius, is advised to ensure ongoing safety and mitigate potential risks of metal accumulation.

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