John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Methylmercury accumulation and elimination in mink (Neovison vison) hair and blood: Results of a controlled feeding experiment using stable isotope tracers

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Concentrations of metals in hair are used often to develop pharmacokinetic models for both animals and humans. While data on uptake are available, elimination kinetics are less well understood; stable isotope tracers provide an excellent tool for measuring uptake and elimination kinetics. In the present study, methylmercury (MeHg) concentrations through time were measured in the hair and blood of mink (Neovison vison) during a controlled 60‐day feeding experiment. Thirty‐four mink were fed a standard fish‐based diet for 14 days at the end of which (day 0), 4 mink were sacrificed to determine baseline MeHg concentrations. From day 0 to day 10, the remaining mink were fed Diet #1 consisting of the base diet supplemented with 0.513 ± 0.013 μg Me199Hg/g and 0.163 ± 0.003 μg Me201Hg/g. From day 10 to day 60, mink were fed Diet #2, i.e., the base diet supplemented with 0.175 ± 0.024 μg Me201Hg/g. Animals were sacrificed periodically to determine accumulation of Me201Hg in blood and hair over the entire 60 day period and the elimination of Me199Hg over the last 50 days. Hair samples collected from each mink and cut into 2.0‐mm lengths, indicate that both isotopes of MeHg first appeared in the hair closest to the skin at approximately day 10 with concentrations in the hair reaching steady state from day 39 onwards. The elimination rate of Me199Hg from the blood was 0.05/day and the ratio of MeHg in the hair:blood was 119. A large fraction of MeHg (22% to > 100%) was stored in the hair suggesting that in fur‐bearing mammals, hair is a major route of elimination of MeHg from the body. Environ Toxicol Chem © 2014 SETAC

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