Heavy Metal Concentrations in Trachurus Mediterraneus and Merlangius Merlangus Captured from Marmara Sea, Turkey and Associated Health Risks

Environ Manage. 2021 Mar;67(3):522-531. doi: 10.1007/s00267-020-01352-y. Epub 2020 Sep 6.


Rapid industrialization and excessive human population growth may cause deterioration in marine water quality and biodiversity. Heavy metals are one of the most common pollutants in the seas and marine organisms, including demersal and pelagic fish, can accumulate them from the environment. Assessment of the ecological risk of heavy metals from fish has an important role in public health. In this study, some heavy metal (Pb, Cd, As, Cr, Hg, Cu, Zn, and Fe) concentrations were determined in the muscle tissues of two commonly consumed fish species, Trachurus mediterraneus (Mediterranean horse mackerel) and Merlangius merlangus (Whiting), which are the fifth (14,222 tons/year) and sixth (6814 tons/year) highest commercial catches of marine fish species in Turkey, respectively. Heavy metal concentrations of samples collected from four sites (Adalar, İzmit Bay, Yalova, and Tekirdağ) in the Marmara Sea were determined using ICP-MS. Fish samples caught at Yalova station were found to have the highest heavy metal concentrations. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in terms of the mean values, only As, and Cr were higher than permissible limits in T. mediterraneus, while Pb, Cd, As, and Cr were higher in M. merlangus. Arsenic concentrations were higher than maximum limits in both T. mediterraneus and M. merlangus. The estimated weekly intake (EWI) was calculated to assess the potential health impact. The EWI for arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury for some sites was above the provisional tolerable weekly intake.

Keywords: Bioaccumulation; Health risk; Heavy metals; Merlangius merlangus; Tissue concentration; Trachurus mediterraneus.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Fishes
  • Metals, Heavy* / analysis
  • Oceans and Seas
  • Turkey
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical* / analysis
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical* / toxicity


  • Metals, Heavy
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical