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Mercury and methylmercury concentrations in high altitude lakes and fish (Arctic charr) from the French Alps related to watershed characteristics

Abstract : Total mercury (THg) and methylmercury (MeHg) concentrations were measured in the muscle of Arctic charr (Salvelinus alpinus) and in the water column of 4 lakes that are located in the French Alps. Watershed characteristics were determined (6 coverage classes) for each lake in order to evaluate the influence of watershed composition on mercury and methylmercury concentrations in fish muscle and in the water column. THg and MeHg concentrations in surface water were relatively low and similar among lakes and watershed characteristics play a major role in determining water column Hg and MeHg levels. THg muscle concentrations for fish with either a standardized length of 220 mm, a standardized age of 5 years or for individualuals did not exceed the 0.5 mg kg(-1) fish consumption advisory limit established for Hg by the World Health Organization (WHO, 1990). These relatively low THg concentrations can be explained by watershed characteristics, which lead to short Hg residence time in the water column, and also by the short trophic chain that is characteristic of mountain lakes. Growth rate did not seem to influence THg concentrations in fish muscles of these lakes and we observed no relationship between fish Hg concentrations and altitude. This study shows that in the French Alps, high altitude lakes have relatively low THg and MeHg concentrations in both the water column and in Arctic charr populations. Therefore, Hg does not appear to present a danger for local populations and the fishermen of these lakes.
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https://hal-insu.archives-ouvertes.fr/insu-00605023
Contributor : Pascale Talour <>
Submitted on : Thursday, June 30, 2011 - 1:16:55 PM
Last modification on : Friday, October 23, 2020 - 10:42:03 AM

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N. Marusczak, C. Larose, A. Dommergue, S. Paquet, J. Beaulne, et al.. Mercury and methylmercury concentrations in high altitude lakes and fish (Arctic charr) from the French Alps related to watershed characteristics. Science of the Total Environment, Elsevier, 2011, 409 (10), pp1909-1915. ⟨10.1016/j.scitotenv.2011.02.015⟩. ⟨insu-00605023⟩

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