National Environmental Health Association (NEHA)

Mercury Contamination in Turtles and Implications for Human Health


Mercury contamination threatens many ecosystems worldwide. Methylmercury bioaccumlates at each trophic level, and biomagnifies within individuals over time. Long-lived turtles often occupy high trophic positions and are likely to accumulate mercury in contaminated habitats. Millions of turtles worldwide are sold in Asia for human consumption, and consumers may be at risk if turtles contain high levels of mercury. The authors dissected 71 turtles from 14 food trade species and analyzed their tissues (liver, kidnesy, muscle, claws, and scutes) for total mercury content. Mercury was generally highest in carnivores, and lowest in herbivores. Liver and scutes had the highest concentrations. The authors compared mercury concentrations with consumption limits developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Food and Drug Administration to evaluate mercury in fish tissue. Several samples exceeded the recommended 1,900 parts per billion (ppb) consumption threshold, indicating that consumers who eat certain turtle species frequently may be at risk for mercury-related health problems.

Customer comments

No comments were found for Mercury Contamination in Turtles and Implications for Human Health. Be the first to comment!