Summary of Total Mercury Concentrations in Fillets of Selected Sport Fishes Collected during 2000–2003 from Lake Natoma, Sacramento County, California

By Michael K. Saiki, Darell G. Slotton, Thomas W. May, Shaun M. Ayers, and Charles N. Alpers


Data Series 103

Sacramento, California 2004

Prepared in cooperation with the Bureau of Reclamation and the California Department of Water Resource

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     This report summarizes results of total mercury measurements in skinless fillets of sport fishes collected during August 2000, September–October 2002, and July 2003 from Lake Natoma, a small (8,760 acre-feet) afterbay for Folsom Dam on the lower American River. The primary objective of the study was to determine if mercury concentrations in fillets approached or exceeded guidelines for human consumption. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) human-health action level for methylmercury in commercially caught fish is 1.0 µg/g (microgram per gram); the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) human-health criterion for methylmercury residue in fish tissue is 0.30 µg/g. Wet weight concentrations of total mercury in skinless fillets were as high as 0.19 µg/g in bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus), 0.39 µg/g in redear sunfish (L. microlophus), 1.02 µg/g in largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides), and 1.89 µg/g in channel catfish (Ictalurus punctatus). Maximum concentrations of mercury in other fish species varied from 0.10 µg/g in rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) to 0.56 µg/g in white catfish (A-meiurus catus). Altogether, 1 of 86 largemouth bass and 11 of 11 channel catfish exceeded the FDA human-health action level. In addition, 1 of 20 redear sunfish, 26 of 86 largemouth bass, 2 of 3 spotted bass (M. punctulatus), 1 of 1 brown bullhead (A. nebulosus), and 1 of 1 white catfish exceeded the USEPA human-health criterion. These results indicate that some fish species inhabiting Lake Natoma contain undesirably high concentrations of mercury in their skinless fillets.





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