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Comparison of heavy metals, parasites and histopathology in sculpins (Myoxocephalus spp.) from two sites at a lead-zinc mine in North East Greenland


Norregaard, RD and Dang, TS and Bach, L and Geertz-Hansen, O and Gustavson, K and Aastrup, P and Leifsson, PS and Sondergaard, J and Nowak, BF and Sonne, C, Comparison of heavy metals, parasites and histopathology in sculpins (Myoxocephalus spp.) from two sites at a lead-zinc mine in North East Greenland, Environmental Research, 165 pp. 306-316. ISSN 0013-9351 (2018) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

2018 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

DOI: doi:10.1016/j.envres.2018.04.016


The former lead-zinc mine at Mestersvig, Greenland, continues to contaminate the surrounding environment despite its operations ceasing over 50 years ago. Elevated concentrations of heavy metals are found in water, sediment and biota in the terrestrial, freshwater and marine environments. To shed light on the present contamination and its potential effects on local fish we investigated gill and liver histology of sculpins (Myoxocephalus spp.) around the former mining area. Two species of sculpins were caught; shorthorn sculpins (M. scorpius; n = 16) and fourhorn sculpins (M. quadricornis; n = 17) at a contaminated site, Nyhavn, and shorthorn sculpins (M. scorpius; n = 25) at the reference site. In a previous study we found histopathological changes in the tissues of the sculpins, and we suspected this to be related to elevated heavy metal tissue concentrations. Concentrations of Fe, Hg, Mn, Pb, Se and Zn were significantly higher in sculpins at Nyhavn compared to the reference site. Reference NOED and LOEC thresholds for biochemistry, tissue lesions, growth, survival and reproduction for hepatic Hg, As, Cd and Pb from the ERED database were exceeded in both sculpin species. Histopathological investigations of the sculpins gills revealed significant increases in the prevalence of hyperplastic epithelium, inflammation, intensity of neutral and total mucus cells and chloride cells along with an increased infection of colonial Peritricha. At the contaminated Nyhavn site, fourhorn sculpins had a significantly higher prevalence of chondroplastic tissue and intensity of neutral, mixed and total mucus cells in the gills compared to the shorthorn sculpins. The data indicate that both sculpin species could be useful indicator species for environmental monitoring of metal pollution in Arctic areas. However, confounding effects of gender and species should be investigated further. Effects on other biomarkers as well as baseline measurements should be included in future environmental monitoring efforts around mining activities in Greenland.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:mine pollution, heavy metals, sculpin, monitoring, fish, effects, Arctic
Research Division:Environmental Sciences
Research Group:Environmental management
Research Field:Conservation and biodiversity
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Management of Antarctic and Southern Ocean environments
Objective Field:Assessment and management of Antarctic and Southern Ocean ecosystems
UTAS Author:Dang, TS (Ms Thi Dang)
UTAS Author:Nowak, BF (Professor Barbara Nowak)
ID Code:126017
Year Published:2018
Web of Science® Times Cited:15
Deposited By:Fisheries and Aquaculture
Deposited On:2018-05-18
Last Modified:2018-11-27

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