Mercury in Aquatic Environments along the Mediterranean Sea in Egypt

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A study aims to characterize the distribution and speciation of mercury (Hg) in coastal waters, fish, and sediments from the Western Harbour (main harbour) in Egypt, collected during two surveys. Slightly elevated total dissolved mercury (TDHg) levels (annual mean of 1.81 μg/L) in surface waters may reflect high average surface concentrations (6.09 μg/L) recorded at the outer harbour, likely due to influx of industrially-contaminated waters from El Mex Bay. Elevated TDHg was also observed at the petroleum quay (5.13 μg/L) and in front of the Noubaria Canal outfall (5.32 μg/L), possibly related to harbour activities and canal discharges. Furthermore, increased particulate mercury levels during the study may have resulted from heavy winter rainfall over this highly industrialized region, as well as mercury regeneration at sediment-water interfaces within the harbour. Total and methylmercury levels in studied fish species exceeded regulatory limits established by the European Union. Contamination was highest in S. luridus, likely due to its benthic habitat in shallow waters near contaminated sediments, as well as its feeding behavior. Sediment analyses revealed a predominance of organo-chelated and acid-reducible mercury, indicating the availability of strong mercury binding sites. Despite the relatively high proportions of bioavailable mercury fractions, the absolute concentrations of these mobile fractions were elevated due to high total mercury levels.


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