Environmental Monitoring and Assessment

, Volume 184, Issue 1, pp 77–88 | Cite as

Risk assessment for methylmercury in fish from the Songhua River, China: 30 years after mercury-containing wastewater outfalls were eliminated

  • Hui Zhu
  • Baixing Yan
  • Huicong Cao
  • Lixia Wang


This study aims to investigate the methylmercury contamination of fish from the Songhua River, China. A total of 328 fish representing various trophic levels were captured from ten reaches of the river and determined for methylmercury by gas chromatography method. Total mercury in fish, water and sediments from three typical reaches were analyzed simultaneously. Methylmercury concentrations in fish from the Second Songhua River and the mainstream of the Songhua River were 0.024 ± 0.016 and 0.015 ± 0.007 mg/kg fresh weight, respectively. The proportion of methylmercury to total mercury ranged from 21.8% to 69.7%, with the mean value of 42.6%. The observed methylmercury concentrations were much lower than the historical values and were generally within the reported literature range, and health hazard assessment showed no health risk from exposure to methylmercury by consuming fish from this river, demonstrating that mercury contamination of the Songhua River has been effectively controlled by nearly 30 years of environmental governance and natural purification.


Fish Health risk Methylmercury Total mercury The Songhua River 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hui Zhu
    • 1
    • 2
  • Baixing Yan
    • 1
  • Huicong Cao
    • 1
  • Lixia Wang
    • 1
  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Wetland Ecology and Environment, Northeast Institute of Geography and AgroecologyChinese Academy of SciencesChangchunPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Graduate University of the Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingPeople’s Republic of China

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