Interspecific and locational differences in metal levels in edible fish tissue from Saudi Arabia

Joanna Burger, Michael Gochfeld, Zenon B. Batang, Nabeel Mannalamkunnath Alikunhi, Ramzi Aljahdali, Dalal Al-Jebreen, Mohammed A. M. Aziz, Abdulaziz M. Al-Suwailem

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Metal levels in fish have been extensively studied, but little data currently exists for the Middle East. We examined the levels of metals and metalloids (aluminum, arsenic, copper, manganese, selenium, zinc, and mercury) in the flesh of 13 fish species collected from three fishing sites and a local fish market in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. We tested the following null hypotheses: (1) there are no interspecific differences in metal levels, (2) there are no differences in metal levels in fishes between market and fishing sites, (3) there are no size-related differences in metal levels, and (4) there are no differences in selenium:mercury molar ratio among different fish species. There were significant interspecific differences in concentrations for all metals. There was an order of magnitude difference in the levels of aluminum, arsenic, mercury, manganese, and selenium, indicating wide variation in potential effects on the fish themselves and on their predators. Fishes from Area II, close to a large commercial port, had the highest levels of arsenic, mercury, and selenium, followed by market fishes. Mercury was positively correlated with body size in 6 of the 13 fish species examined. Mercury was correlated positively with arsenic and selenium, but negatively with aluminum, cobalt, copper, manganese, and zinc. Selenium:mercury molar ratios varied significantly among species, with Carangoides bajad, Cephalopholis argus, Variola louti, and Ephinephelus tauvina having ratios below 10:1. These findings can be used in risk assessments, design of mercury reduction plans, development of fish advisories to protect public health, and future management decision-making.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6721-6746
Number of pages26
JournalEnvironmental Monitoring and Assessment
Issue number10
StatePublished - Jul 6 2014

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledged KAUST grant number(s): KAUST/MoA 228211
Acknowledgements: This research was funded by the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) to KAUST (KAUST/MoA 228211), with additional funds to JB and MG from EOHSI, the Consortium for Risk Evaluation with Stakeholder Participation (Department of Energy, DE-FC01-86EW07053), NIEHS (P30ES005022), and Rutgers University. We thank the KAUST Administration and CMOR staff for the invaluable support and assistance throughout the project implementation. We also thank the many people who have discussed these topics with us, or who have helped in the research, including R. Schoeny, A. Stern, D. Carpenter, N. Ralston, M. Lemire, D. Mergler, S. Silbernagel, E. Silbergeld, E. Groth, C. Chess, C. Powers, D. Kosson, J. Clarke, C. Jeitner, T. Pittfield, and M. Donio. The views and opinions expressed in this paper are those of the authors, and do not represent the funding agencies.


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