JRC validates simple method to monitor methylmercury in fish
JRC's European Union Reference Laboratory for Heavy Metals in Feed and Food validates a simple analytical method for the determination of methylmercury in seafood.
The validated method:
At the moment official control bodies measure total mercury but methylmercury is the most toxic type of mercury and is most abundant in seafood. The ablity to measure methylmercury in seafood is fundamental for protecting the well-being of pregnant women and children. According to the Scientific Opinion of the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) published in 2012, the major source of methylmercury intake in humans is fish and seafood products.
There is currently only a recommendation from the European Commission to breastfeeding and pregnant women and children to limit their consumption of big predatory fish such as tuna and swordfish. However, no maximum limits have been set up yet. The European Commission needed a validated method for mercury speciation analysis to eventually introduce maximum limits for methylmercury in the legislation and ensure enforcement of the regulated limits in Member States. The European Commission requested the EURL-HM to validate a method which
could be used by laboratories that do not run many methylmercury
analyses per year and which do not have sophisticated techniques at
their disposal. This simple method would not imply the use of any fancy
technology, it is easy to implement and does not require experienced
technicians neither to run the analyses nor to interpret the results.
The method used is based on a double liquid-liquid extraction, first with an organic solvent and then with a cystein solution. The validation was carried out in collaboration with the National Reference Laboratory for heavy metals from Portugal (Instituto Português do Mar e da Atmosfera) and with the Laboratori Agència Salut Pública de Barcelona.
With the method validated by the EURL-HM, maximum levels could be introduced in the legislation if desired. It is a simple method that every laboratory can use. As from the 28 February 2013, the Standard Operating Procedure for the
determination of methylmercury in seafood can be
downloaded for free by any laboratory in the world.
Source: adapted from European Commission Joint Research Centre, IRMMRelated Information JRC: Standard Operating Procedure for the determination of methylmercury in seafood JRC: IMEP-115: Determination of Methylmercury in Seafood - A Collaborative Trial Report EFSA: Scientific Opinion on the risk for public health related to the presence of mercury and methylmercury in food BRI
- Report: Mercury in the Global Environment: Patterns of Global Seafood
Mercury Concentrations and their Relationship with Human Health Zero Mercury Working Group - Report: Mercury Contamination, Exposures and Risk: A New Global Picture Emerges, December 2012 Zero
Mercury Working Group - Report: An Overview of Epidemiological Evidence
on the Effects of Methylmercury on Brain Development, and A Rationale
for a Lower Definition of Tolerable Exposure, December 2012 Related EVISA Resources Link database: Mercury exposure through the diet Link database: Mercury and human health Link database: Toxicity of Organo-mercury compounds Link database: Analytical Methods for Methylmercury
Related EVISA News March 13, 2013: FDA rejects petition to change methylmercury standard in seafood January 14, 2013: Mercury Levels in Humans and Fish Around the World Regularly Exceed Health Advisory Levels December 24, 2012: Mercury in food – EFSA updates advice on risks for public health
December 9, 2012: Mercury in fish more dangerous than previously
believed; Scientists urge for effective treaty ahead of UN talks October 12, 2012: Prenatal mercury intake linked to ADHD
July 31, 2012: FDA Lands in Court Over Mercury in Fish June 17, 2012: Factors Affecting Methylmercury Accumulation in the Food Chain March 1, 2012: High levels of mercury in newborns likely from mothers eating contaminated fish October 15, 2011: Mercury pollution in the Great Lakes region -- nearly forgotten, but not gone August 16, 2010: Methylmercury: What have we learned from Minamata Bay? August 21, 2009: USGS Study Reveals Mercury Contamination in Fish Nationwide May 3, 2009: Ocean mercury on the rise February 11, 2009: Mercury in Fish is a Global Health Concern October 30, 2008: Precautionary approach to methylmercury needed
March 11, 2007: Methylmercury contamination of fish warrants worldwide public warning October 9, 2006: Linking atmospheric mercury to methylmercury in fish August 16, 2006: Mercury pollution threatens health worldwide, scientists say June 8, 2006: Methylmercury in fish: Can you cook it out ? February 17, 2006: Study shows link between clear lakes and methylmercury contamination in fish
February 9, 2006: Study show high levels of mercury in women related to fish consumption August 29, 2005: Is methyl mercury limiting the delight of
seafood ? - To answer this question is a challenge for elemental
speciation analysis January 12, 2005: Number of fish meals is a good predictor for the mercury found in hair of environmental journalists April 27, 2004: New kind of mercury found in fish April 27, 2004: FDA/EPA recommends pregnant women to restrict their fish consumption because of methylmercury content
last time modified: April 2, 2013