Contents of methylmercury and total mercury in Baltic Sea fish and fish products
Bulletin of the Sea Fisheries Institute 3 (160) 2003, pp. 3-15

Iwona Barska and Ireneusz Skrzyński
Sea Fisheries Institute, Kołłątaja 1, 81-332 Gdynia, Poland

Key words: mercury, methylmercury, Baltic fish, metalorganic compounds, organic mercury compounds.

Studies of the content of methylmercury in samples of selected Baltic fish species, products made of them and some imported fish were carried out in the period from 1996 to 1998. The aim was to evaluate the health quality of fish and fish products designated for human consumption. The method used for the determination of the content of methylmercury was first adapted to and then validated for the purpose of these studies. The concentrations determined were compared with the permissible levels of methylmercury set by countries such as Japan, the USA and Greece as well as with the permissible limits of total mercury set in Poland and other countries. The results of the studies confirmed that the methylmercury and total mercury content in Baltic fish and products made of them do not pose any threat to the consumer and therefore they can be eaten safely. In contrast, the content of methylmercury in samples of imported fish was close or even slightly higher than the permissible level, and this is why in the future, the monitoring of fish and fish products which are available on the Polish market should incorporate a larger number of imported fish samples.