Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


The Mediterranean is a semi-enclosed sea that is geochemically anomalous for mercury. It is an area rich in mercury deposits which account for 65% of the world's mercury production despite the fact that it occupies only 1% of the earth's surface. A number of chlor-alkali industries located in coastal zones, as well as agricultural and urban wastes, account for large amounts of mercury discharged into its water. From the health standpoint, methylmercury is the most toxic chemical form of mercury. Its presence in seafood was demonstrated over thirty years ago. Since the 1970s mercury has been detected in Mediterranean fish and reported higher than that in the same species of the Atlantic Ocean. Water, sediments, and organisms of the Mediterranean have been analyzed for mercury for over 20 years but it is only since the end of the 1970s and in this decade that sample contamination is better understood and that analytical techniques are more refined so that mercury data are considered reliable and comparable. This article is a compendium of mercury in the Mediterranean ecosystem. The World Health Organization's limit of 0.5 ppm wet weight in edible marine organisms is considered a safe limit. More research on the phenomenon of methylation and on the determination of the fraction methylmercury/total mercury in organisms of the Mediterranean is needed.

Additional information

Authors: MERLINI L, JRC Ispra Estab. (IT);CLEMENTS-MERLINI M, JRC Ispra Estab. (IT)
Bibliographic Reference: EUR 12001 EN (1989) MF, 93 pp., ECU 4, blow-up copy ECU 12.50
Availability: (2)
Record Number: 198910360 / Last updated on: 1994-12-01
Original language: en
Available languages: en