Introduction: Mercury is ubiquitous in the biosphere, occurring in the air, water, land, and soil, as well as in living organisms. Excessive exposure to mercury is associated with a wide range of adverse health effects including damage to the central nervous system and the kidneys. Mercury exists in many different forms in the environment which produce various patterns of toxicity. Protection of the food chain from contamination by mercury is an important task in the protection of health of the human population.
Objective: The aim of the study was to monitor the concentrations of mercury in fish and fish products from food retail in Eastern Slovakia, and from the Ružín water reservoir, Košice district.
Material and methods: A total of 384 samples of fish and fish products were collected for the study. Atomic absorption spectrometry standard solutions for mercury were used at a wavelength of 254 nm.
Results: The majority of countries and global organizations now enforce a maximum concentration of mercury in fish of approximately 0.5 mg.kg-1. All of the 184 samples (50.52 % of the total fish samples studied) were above the maximum level set by the European Commission Regulation for mercury in fish.
Conclusions: The systematic analytical control of contaminants in food is important. Mercury is concentrated in seafood, products of prey and marine fish, fish from rivers and lakes in the areas contaminated by mercury. According to the findings of this study with analyzer AMA 254, the consumption is not recommended of fish, especially seafood (meat of shark, swordfish and king mackerel), for selected groups of the population: children, women of childbearing age, pregnant women and nursing mothers.
Keywords: atomic absorption spectrometry; daily intake; fish; methylmercury; seafood.