Monitoring Heavy Metals in Selected Commercial Species of Fish  

Project Title: Monitoring Heavy Metals in Selected Commercial Species of Fish

Applicant: Friends of The Earth

Total Approved Grant: $120,000

Duration: 10/94 to 07/98

Project Status/Remarks: Completed

Scope: To provide preliminary data on the level of heavy metal contaminants in locally-caught fish and the possible health implications

Summary of the Findings/Outcomes: In average, a person in Hong Kong consumed fish or shellfish four or more times a week of about 60 grams of fish per day when compared to people in other countries. Even though the mean mercury level in store-bought Hong Kong fish was only 0.12 mg/kg mercury bioaccumulates, by the time a typical Hong Kong male reached 30 years of age he would have accumulated approximately 4 mg/kg mercury in his body. By age of 60, he would have increased his body burden of mercury to about 7.5 mg/kg. The mean hair mercury concentration for over 200 Hong Kong residents was 3.3. mg/kg which was more than double the U.S. mean.

In Hong Kong there was a significant correlation (p<0.05) between male subfertility and the level of mercury in the hair of males between the ages of 25 and 75. The study of individuals who had been eating mercury contaminated fish steadily for many years suggested that a daily mercury intake of only 0.3 to 0.7 mg/kg body weight might be sufficient to inhibit spermatogenesis in some Hong Kong males.