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EFFECTS OF COMMONLY USED COOKING PRACTICES ON TOTAL MERCURY CONCENTRATION IN FISH AND THEIR IMPACT ON EXPOSURE ASSESSMENTS
Morgan, J., M. Berry, AND B. Graves. EFFECTS OF COMMONLY USED COOKING PRACTICES ON TOTAL MERCURY CONCENTRATION IN FISH AND THEIR IMPACT ON EXPOSURE ASSESSMENTS. Journal of Exposure Analysis and Environmental Epidemiology 7(1):119-134, (1997).
The effects of cooking practices commonly used by Native Americans on total mercury concentrations in fish were investigated. A preparation factor relating mercury concentrations in fish as prepared for consumption to mercury concentration data as measured in typical environmental monitoring programs was calculated.Preparation factors are needed to provide risk assessors with a more accurate estimate of the actual amount of mercury ingested through consumption of contaminated fish. Data on fish preparation and consumption practices of two communities of Chippewa residing on the shores of Lake Superior in northern Wisconsin were used to select practices for study. The most commonly consumed species, walleye and lake trout, were selected. Whitefish livers were also selected for study. Commonly used cooking techniques including panfrying,deep-frying,baking,boiling,and smoking were duplicated in the laboratory. Total mercury concentrations were determined in fish portions before and after cooking and in a portion representative of that analyzed in programs to assess water quality (skin-on fillets). Total mercury was determined by microwave digestion-cold vapor atomic absorption spectroscopy. Mercury concentrations(wet weight basis)in panfried,baked,and boiled walleye fillets and deep-fried and baked whitefish livers ranged from 1.1 to 1.5 times higher than in corresponding raw portions. In lake trout, mercury concentrations were 1.5 to 2.0 times higher in cooked portions than in the raw portion. However, total mercury levels were constant before and after cooking, indicating the concentration effect is caused by weight(moisture and fat) loss. The addition of lemon juice to potentially release mercury from its bound state and promote volatilization did not exert any measureable influence on mercury concentrations in cooked walleye. In some cases mercury concentrations were increased with increased cooking times due to further loss of moisture and fat. Preparation factors (defined as the ratio of mercury concentration in cooked fish to the mercury concentration in the environmental portion) ranged from 1.3 to 2.0. Results suggest that consideration be given to the use of preparation factors in risk assessment, exposure assessments, or issuance of fish advisories where mercury concentrations in raw fish tissue are used in conjunction with cooked fish meal sizes.