John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

A review of mercury concentrations in freshwater fishes of Africa: Patterns and predictors

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The methylated form of mercury (methylmercury) is a potent neurotoxicant and a contaminant of concern for fisheries because of its potential effects on ecosystem and human health. In Africa, inland fisheries are a crucial component of food and economic security, yet little information is available on Hg contamination trends. The authors compiled published data on mercury (Hg) contamination in African freshwater fishes, invertebrates, and plankton, as well as on potential drivers of Hg concentrations in these organisms. From 30 identified studies the authors assembled 407 total Hg concentrations from 166 fish species, 10 types of invertebrates, and various plankton, distributed across 31 water bodies in 12 countries. In fishes, total Hg concentrations, expressed as mean (± standard deviation) per location, averaged 156.0 ± 328.0 ng/g wet weight and ranged from 5.5 ng/g wet weight to 1865.0 ng/g wet weight. Only locations with nearby artisanal and small‐scale gold mining operations had mean Hg concentrations above the World Health Organization/Food and Agriculture Organization's recommended guideline for fish (500 ng/g wet wt). The authors used mixed models to detect relationships between fish Hg concentrations and trophic level, mass, latitude, and chlorophyll a. Mass, trophic level, and latitude were all positive predictors of Hg concentration, confirming the presence of Hg bioaccumulation and biomagnification in African fishes. Although strong trends in Hg concentrations were evident, the present study also highlights limited availability of Hg data in Africa. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved

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