Ann Occup Environ Med.  2020 ;32(1):e3. 10.35371/aoem.2020.32.e3.

Mercury concentration in shark meat from traditional markets of Gyeongsangbuk-do, South Korea

  • 1Department of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Yeungnam University Hospital, Daegu, Korea.
  • 2Graduate School of Environment & Public Health Studies, Yeungnam University, Daegu, Korea.
  • 3Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health, College of Medicine, Yeungnam University, Daegu, Korea.


Although unusually high levels of blood mercury have been reported in the North Gyeongsang Province (Gyeongsangbuk-do), mercury contents from shark meat distributed in this region have not been assessed yet. Thus, this study aims to identify the hazard by evaluating the mercury contents of the shark meat sold in the traditional market of Gyeongsangbuk-do.
The shark meat in the form of muscle meat was obtained from 15 traditional markets of Gyeongsangbuk-do in the summer and winter of 2013. Out of 105 samples in total, 49 were collected in the summer and 56 in the winter. The total mercury concentration was measured by the combustion-gold amalgamation method using an automatic mercury analyzer (Milestone DMA-80, Milestone).
The average mercury concentration of shark meat was 2.29 ± 1.77 µg/g, ranging between 0.06-8.93 µg/g with a geometric mean of 1.44 µg/g, which is higher than those reported in many countries. The mercury concentration in 77 of 105 shark meat samples exceeded 1 µg/g. Mercury concentration ranged between 0.09-8.93 µg/g (geometric mean: 1.45) in the summer and 0.06-6.73 µg/g (geometric mean: 1.48) in the winter.
Shark meat sold in the market contained a substantial amount of mercury. This suggests that it is difficult to reduce mercury intake by simply strengthening the standard level of mercury concentration in shark meat. Therefore, it is need to communication and awareness programs with consumers about hazardous effects of mercury inherent in shark meat.


Mercury exposure; Shark meat intake; Jesa; Traditional market; South Korea
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