Selenium and Mercury Concentrations in Canned Fish Products Commonly Available on the Ghanaian Market and Estimation of their Selenium Health Benefit Values

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Canned fish products are widely and highly consumed in Ghana, due to their hygienic, delicious, and easy to consume nature. There have been numerous reports on mercury accumulation in fish, accordingly, the levels of mercury in fish and the dietary exposure to mercury through the consumption of fish have become the subject of discussion worldwide by environmental activist groups. Though the interactions between Se and Hg and their molar ratios in fish are essential factors in evaluating risks associated with dietary mercury exposure, the discussions by the environmental groups have been limited to the levels of Hg in fish alone. The study assessed the health risk [selenium health benefit value, (SeHBV)] posed by the consumption of thirteen (13) canned fish products available on the Ghanaian market. This was achieved through the determination of the concentration of Se and Hg in the fifty-two (52) blended lyophilized homogenates of fish products using hydride generation atomic absorption spectrometry (HG-AAS) and cold vapour atomic absorption spectrometry (CV-AAS). Prior to HG-AAS determination, the lyophilized fish samples were wet ashed by microwave digestion using a combination of HNO3, HCl and H2O2. The digestate obtained was defatted with diethyl ether in a rotary evaporator at a water bath temperature of 45ᵒC. Based on the concentrations of Se and Hg determined, the molar concentrations of Se and Hg ; the Se-Hg molar ratio ( Se : Hg) ; the Hg-Se molar ratio ( Hg : Se) ; the free Se content and hence the SeHBV were evaluated.
A Thesis submitted to the Department of Theoretical and Applied Biology, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science Faculty of Biosciences, College of Science.