Marine organisms such as mussels and fish take up polonium (Po) and selenium (Se), and distribute them into different cellular components and compartments. Due to its high radiotoxicity and possible biomagnification across the marine food chain Po-210 is potentially hazardous, while selenium is an essential trace element for humans and animals. The aim of this study was to investigate and compare the presence and extractability of the elements in the mussels Mytilus galloprovincialis collected in the Gulf of Trieste. The levels of Po-210 in the samples ranged from 220 to 400 Bq kg(-1) and of Se from 2.6 to 8.2 mg kg(-1), both on a dry matter basis. Using various extraction types and conditions in water, buffer or enzymatic media, the best extractability was obtained with enzymatic extraction (Protease XIV, 1h shaking at 40 °C) and the worst by water extraction (24 h shaking at 37 °C). 90% of Po-210 and 70% of Se was extractable in the first case versus less than 10% of Po-210 and less than 40% of Se in the second. Such evident differences in extractability between the investigated elements point to different metabolic pathways of the two elements. In enzymatic extracts Se speciation revealed three Se compounds (SeCys2, SeMet, one undefined), while Po-210 levels were too low to allow any conclusions about speciation.
Keywords: Extraction; Mussels; Polonium-210; Selenium; Speciation.
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