Changes in total mercury, methylmercury, and selenium blood levels during different life history stages of the Baltic grey seal (Halichoerus grypus grypus)

Agnieszka Grajewska , Lucyna Falkowska , Dominika Saniewska , Iwona Pawliczka Vel Pawlik

Abstract

Using the blood of grey seal pups, the blood and milk of female grey seals inhabiting the Hel Marine Station of Gdansk University's Institute of Oceanography (HMS), we monitored the transfer of total mercury (THg), methylmercury (MeHg), and selenium (Se) with blood during foetal life and nursing. Changes in the concentration of mercury and selenium were characterised in the pups' blood during their first three months of life when they transition from suckling, to a post-weaning fast, to eating fish. In the blood of pregnant females, there was a significant decrease in THg and MeHg concentrations throughout the gestation, indicating the transfer of these toxins through the placenta into the foetus. At no other stage of the pup's development was there such a high level of THg and MeHg as on the day of birth, despite the incorporation of mercury into the lanugo during foetal growth. This suggests that the maternal transfer of mercury during gestation may be the time of greatest mercury exposure for a young seal pup. The consumption of milk caused a rapid increase in weight and a lowering of the mercury level in the blood in the subsequent days of the pups' life. The postweaning fast was the period of the lowest mercury concentration. The switch to a diet consisting of fish caused a systematic increase in the concentration of mercury in the blood of the pups. Milk was the significant source of selenium for pups and the selenium concentration in females' blood was reduced during lactation. The nursing period seemed to have the greatest impact on the mercury and selenium blood levels in examined seals. Natural development of the grey seal pup created an opportunity to decrease the levels of toxic substances obtained through the maternal transfer during foetal growth.
Author Agnieszka Grajewska (FOG / IO / DMChEP)
Agnieszka Grajewska,,
- Division of Marine Chemistry and Environmental Protection
, Lucyna Falkowska (FOG / IO / DMChEP)
Lucyna Falkowska,,
- Division of Marine Chemistry and Environmental Protection
, Dominika Saniewska (FOG / IO / DMChEP)
Dominika Saniewska,,
- Division of Marine Chemistry and Environmental Protection
, Iwona Pawliczka Vel Pawlik (FOG / IO / HMS)
Iwona Pawliczka Vel Pawlik,,
- Hel Marine Station
Journal seriesScience of the Total Environment, ISSN 0048-9697, (A 40 pkt)
Issue year2019
Vol676
Pages268-277
Publication size in sheets0.5
Keywords in Englishmaternal transfer, mercury, blood, lactation, postweaning fast
ASJC Classification2310 Pollution; 2311 Waste Management and Disposal; 2304 Environmental Chemistry; 2305 Environmental Engineering
DOIDOI:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.04.204
URL https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.04.204
Languageen angielski
Score (nominal)40
ScoreMinisterial score = 40.0, 24-07-2019, ArticleFromJournal
Publication indicators Scopus SNIP (Source Normalised Impact per Paper): 2016 = 1.849; WoS Impact Factor: 2017 = 4.61 (2) - 2017=4.984 (5)
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