Autometallographic tracing of mercury in pilot whale tissues in the Faroe Islands

Meredin Stoltenberg, Agnete Larsen, Kåre Kemp, Dorete Bloch, Pál Weihe

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    6 Citations (Scopus)
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    OBJECTIVES: Autometallography (AMG) was applied for tracing mercury in long-finned pilot whales (Globicephala melas) harvested in the Faroe Islands.

    RESULTS: Ample mercury accumulation was found in kidney tubules, in contrast to the largely unstained glomeruli. Hepatocytes, as well as liver macrophages, exhibited high mercury uptake. The muscle tissue accumulated only scant amounts of mercury, primarily around the nuclei of the striated muscle cells. At the ultrastructural level, mercury was found to accumulate intracellularly in lysosomes, and extracellularly in the basement membranes of vessels. The results were verified by proton induced X-ray emission (PIXE) analysis, and it was established that the tissue contained no other AMG traceable metals.

    CONCLUSION: The use of AMG analysis on autopsies and biopsies is suggested as a tool for evaluating mercury pollution.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)182-189
    Number of pages8
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2003


    • heavy metals
    • silver enhancement
    • pilot whales


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