The relationships between heavy metal (Cd, Cr, Cu, Fe, Pb, Zn) levels and the size of six Mediterranean fish species

Environ Pollut. 2003;121(1):129-36. doi: 10.1016/s0269-7491(02)00194-x.


Heavy metal (Cd, Cr, Cu, Fe, Pb, Zn) concentrations in the muscle, gill and liver of six fish species (Sparus auratus, Atherina hepsetus, Mugil cephalus, Trigla cuculus, Sardina pilchardus and Scomberesox saurus) from the northeast Mediterranean Sea were measured and the relationships between fish size (length and weight) and metal concentrations in the tissues were investigated by linear regression analysis. Metal concentrations (as microg/g d.w.) were highest in the liver, except for iron in the gill of Scomberesox sauris and lowest in the muscle of all the fish species. Highest concentrations of Cd (4.50), Cr (17.1) and Pb (41.2) were measured in liver tissues of T. cuculus, Sardina pilchardus and A. hepsetus, respectively. The liver of M. cephalus showed strikingly high Cu concentrations (202.8). The gill of Scomberesox saurus was the only tissue that showed highest (885.5) iron concentrations. Results of linear regression analysis showed that, except in a few cases, significant relationships between metal concentrations and fish size were negative. Highly significant (P<0.001) negative relationships were found between fish length and Cr concentrations in the liver of A. hepsetus and M. cephalus, and Cr concentrations in the gill of T. cuculus. Cr and Pb concentrations in the liver and Cu concentrations in all the tissues of Scomberesox saurus also showed very significant (P<0.001) negative relationships. Negative relationships found here were discussed.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Constitution
  • Body Weight
  • Environmental Exposure
  • Fishes / anatomy & histology*
  • Fishes / metabolism
  • Gills / chemistry
  • Linear Models
  • Liver / chemistry
  • Mediterranean Sea
  • Metals, Heavy / analysis
  • Metals, Heavy / toxicity*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / chemistry
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / analysis
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / toxicity*


  • Metals, Heavy
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical