Mercury Concentrations in Alligator Meat in Georgia

Tail meat samples from 22 American alligators (Alligator mississippiensis) collected from 10 collection areas in Georgia during 1990 were analyzed for mercury (Hg) concentrations (wet weight basis). Mercury was detected in all samples and ranged from 0.1 ppm to 1.4 ppm (x = 0.48 ppm). No differences in mercury concentration were found between sexes (P = 0.638) or among all collection areas (P = 0.178). Pooled samples from collection sites on the headwaters of the Suwannee River system had higher mercury concentrations (P < 0.005) than those from all other collection sites combined. There was no correlation (P > 0.20) between alligator total length and mercury concentration in the meat samples. Because the mean mercury concentration in alligator meat in this study was below the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) "action level" for fish flesh and because alligator meat is consumed infrequently, no public health problem was indicated.

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