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Varna Medical Forum

Health Risks Associated With Consumption Of Marine Biotoxin-Contaminated Seafood From The North Bulgarian Black Sea Coast

Zlatina Peteva, Mona Stancheva, Stanislava Georgieva, Anelia Gerasimova, Lubomir Makedonski


Seafood, defined as marine and freshwater fish and shellfish, is recognized as a healthy food choice because it is a low-fat protein source that provides long-chain omega-3 fatty acids important for early development along with eye and heart health. In Bulgaria, the consumption of shellfish has been increasing recently. However, seafood is also known to contain certain contaminants, such as methylmercury, arsenic, persistent organic pollutants (POPs) – DDTs and PCBs and marine biotoxins (phycotoxins). They all may adversely affect human health if ingested over certain levels with or without prolonged exposure.
The aim of this research was to evaluate the phycotoxin levels in mussels intended for human consumption and to comment the health risks associated with their consumption.
Mussel (wild and farmed) samples were provided from seafood markets in 2016, 2017 and 2018. The health risk analysis has been conducted as follows: 1) determination of phycotoxin levels via LC-MS technique; 2) comparison the marine biotoxins levels with the EU legislative limit; 3) estimation of acute and chronic exposure; 4) conclusion about the health risks associated with consumption of investigated species. Results indicate the presence of domoic acid (DA), yessotoxins (YTXS), pectenotoxin-2 (PTX-2) and azaspiracids (AZAs) in the samples. The health risks that could be associated – amnesic shellfish and azaspiracid poisoning are due to availability of DA and AZAs, respectively. YTXs and PTX-2 have no proven effect on human health but are acutely toxic to mice via i.p. injection. As the registered phycotoxin levels and the calculated acute and chronic exposure were much lower than the reference limit, in general, it could be concluded that the health risk associated with consumption of marine biotoxin-contaminated seafood from North Bulgaria would be low.


seafood contaminants, adverse health effect, mussels, phycotoxins, amnesic shellfish poisoning

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