Assessment of Health Risk Heavy Metals in Shatt Al-Arab Fishs: Nemipterus sp., Diagramma pictum and Siganus canaliculatus in Basrah Governorate – Iraq

IJEP 44(4): 379-384 : Vol. 44 Issue. 4 (April 2024)

Abdulhameed M. Abdulhameed, Suaad A. Lafta and Mustafa F. Hameed*

Ministry of Education, Basrah Education Directorate, Basrah, Iraq


Fish is considered one of the main meals of Iraqi individual and as a result of environmental pollution in Shatt Al-Arab due to industrial and oil wastes. It poisoned the aquatic environment, including fishes. The concentration of heavy metals was estimated in the tissues of three species of fish found in the Iraqi market, namely (Nemipterus sp., Diagramma pictum and Siganus canaliculatus). Chemical digestion was performed using a microwave oven using citrus fruits, inductively coupled plasma (ICP) was used to find out the concentrations of all heavy metals. Health risks were calculated using statistical indicators developed by USEPA and WHO. The results showed that all fishes studied were toxic to most heavy metals and their concentrations were higher than the food safety index (FSG). The values of target hazard quotient (THQ) were calculated and it was found that all three fishes were dangerous and toxic to human health as a result of arsenic, mercury and lead contamination with values greater than 1. Hazard index (HI) values greater than 1 for all fishes, cancer risk (CR) values for arsenic were minimally carcinogenic, indicating that these fishes are unhealthy and carcinogenic due to arsenic.


Health risk, Basrah, heavy metals, Nemipterus sp., Diagramma pictum, Siganus canaliculatus


  1. FAO. 2003. Food energy- Methods of analysis and conversion factors. Report of a technical workshop. Food and Agriculture Organization, Rome, Italy.
  2. USDA. 2015. Dietary guidelines for Americans (8th edn). U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, USA.
  3. WHO. 2007. Population nutrient intake goals for preventing diet-related chronic diseases. World Health Organization, Geneva.
  4. NHMRC. 2013. Australian dietary guidelines. National Health and Medical Research Council, Australian Government.
  5. Baki, M.A., et al. 2018. Concentration of heavy metals in seafood (fishes, shrimp, lobster and crabs) and human health assessment in Saint Martin island, Bangladesh. Ecotoxicol. Env. Saf., 159: 153-163.
  6. Rakib, M.R.J., et al. 2021. Levels and health risk assessment of heavy metals in dried fish consumed in Bangladesh. Sci. Reports. 11 (1).
  7. Jarup, L. 2003. Hazards of heavy metal contamination. British Med. Bull., 68(1):167-182.
  8. Golden, C.D., et al. 2016. Nutrition: Fall in fish catch threatens human health. Nat., 534(7607):317-320.
  9. Vives, A.E.S., et al. 2006. Analysis of fish samples for environmental monitoring and food safety assessment by synchrotron radiation total reflection x-ray fluorescence. J. Radioanal. Nuclear Chem., 270(1): 231-236.
  10. FAO. 2004. Joint FAO/WHO food standards program. Food and Agriculture Organization, Rome, France.
  11. IOSHIC. 1999. Basics of chemical safety (chapter 7). International Labour Organization, Geneva.
  12. Mensoor, M. and S. Ali. 2018. Determination of heavy metals in freshwater fishes of the Tigris river in Baghdad. Fishes. 3(2):23.
  13. Al-Hasan, S.I. and H.T. Al-Saad. 2012. Levels of heavy metals pollution in the aquatic environment of Basra city, Iraq. 4th Conference on Environmental Sciences.
  14. Ahmad, Arafat. 2020. Evaluation of the heavy metal content in the muscle tissue of common carp (Cyprinus carpio L.) groundwater in Basrah province, Iraq. Iraqi J. Vet. Sci., 35(1): 157-161.
  15. Chen, F. and S.J. Jiang. 2009. Slurry sampling flow injection chemical vapour generation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry for the determination of As, Cd and Hg in cereals. J. Agric. Food Chem., 57(15): 6564-6569.
  16. Al-Sulttani, A.H., A.A.F. Beg and A.H. Dahash. 2022. Assessment of heavy metals concentration in water and fish of Dalmaj Marsh, Iraq. Iragi J. Sci., 63(9): 3761-3774.
  17. Heikens, A. 2006. Arsenic contamination of irrigation water soil and crops in Bangladesh: Risk implication for sustainable agriculture and food safety in Asia. RAP Publication, FAO, China.
  18. Bakhshalizadeh, S., et al. 2022. Health risk assessment of heavy metal concentration in muscle of Chelon aurahus and Chelon saliens from the southern Caspian sea. Env. Geochem. Health. 45(6): 3377-3385.
  19. USEPA. 2015. Regional screening levels (RSLs)-Generic tables. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
  20. Thayer, K.A., et al. 2022. Use of systematic evidence maps within the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) integrated risk information system (IRIS) programme: Advancements to date and looking ahead. Env. Int., 169: 107363.
  21. USEPA. 2000. Risk-based concentration table: Mid Atlantic risk assessment. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
  22. Frankowska, A.Z., et al. 2021. Identification metal-(loid)s compounds in fresh and pre-baked bread with evaluation of risk health assessment. J. Cereal Sci., 97 (January): 103164.
  23. USEPA. 2006. EPA region EQ risk-based concentration table: Background information. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
  24. Antoine, J.M.R., L.A.H. Fung and C.N. Grant. 2017. Assessment of the potential health risks associated with the aluminium, arsenic, cadmium and lead content in selected fruits and vegetables grown in Jamaica. Toxicol. Rep., 4: 181-187.
  25. EPA. 1989. Risk assessment guidance for super-fund volume: Human health evaluation manual (Part A). Environmental Potection Agency.
  26. Wang, L., et al. 2021. Occurrence, controlling factors and health risk of Cr6+in groundwater in the Guanzhong basin of China. Exp. Health. 14 (June).
  27. Bamuwamye, M., P. Ogwok and V. Tumuhairwe. 2015. Cancer and non-cancer risks associated with heavy metal exposures from street foods: Evaluation of roasted meats in an urban setting. J. Env. Poll. Human Health. 3(2): 24-30.
  28. EFSA. 2008. Ricin (from Ricinus communis) as undesirable substances in animal feed. EFSA Panel on Contaminants in the Food Chain. EFSA J., 726: 1-38. DOI: 10.2903/j.efsa.2008.726.
  29. FAO/WHO. 2002. Guidelines for the evaluation of probiotics in food. Report of a joint FAO/WHO working group.
  30. SCHER, SCENIHR and SCCS. 2011. Toxicity and assessment of chemical mixtures. European Commission.
  31. FAO/WHO. 2010. Evaluation of certain food additives. Report of the joint FAO/WHO expert committee on food additives. World Health Organization technical report series no. 956: 1-80.
  32. WHO. 1985. Diabetes mellitus. Report of a WHO study group meeting. World Health Organization, Geneva.
  33. FAO/WHO. 2015. General standard for contaminants and toxins in food and feed.
  34. MHSAC. 2005. National standard of the people’s Republic of China. Ministry of Hygienic and the Standardization Administration of China.
  35. Amata, R., et al. 2004. Toxicological profile for strontium. U.S. Department of Health and Human Service.
  36. FAO. 1983. The state of food and agriculture. Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations.
  37. WHO. 1989. Evaluation of certain food additives and contaminants. World Health Organization, Geneva.
  38. Lee, C.H., et al. 2006. Defective b1-integrins expression in aresenical keratosis and arsenic-treated cultured human keratinocytes. J. Cutan. Patho., 33(2): 129-138.
  39. Fang, Z., et al. 2014. Geotoxicity of tri and hexavalent chromium compounds in-vivo and their modes of action on DNA damage in-vitro. PLoS One. 9(8): e103194.
  40. Kulesza, K.W., A. Oniszczuk and M.W. Hajnos. 2019. An attempt to elucidate the role of iron and zinc ions in development of Alzheimer’s and Parkin-son’s diseases. Biol. Pharma., 111: 1277-1299.
  41. Bhasin, G., H. Kauser and M. Athar. 2002. Iron augments stage-I and stage-II tumour prom-
    otion in murine skin. Canadian Lett., 183(2): 113-122.
  42. Kozlowski, H., et al. 2009. Copper, iron and zinc ions homeostasis and their role in neurodegene-rative disorders (metal uptake, transport, distribution and regulation). Coord. Chem. Rev., 253(21-22): 2665-2685.
  43. Jaishankar, M., et al. 2014. Toxicity, mechanism and health effects of some heavy metals. Interdis. Toxicol., 7(2): 60-72.
  44. Aguilar, J.S. and C. Lind. 1989. On the mechanism of the Mn3+induced neurotoxicity of dopamine: Prevention of quinone-derived oxygen toxicity by DT diaphorase and superoxide dismutase. Chem. Biol. Interactions. 72(3): 309-324.
  45. Seyfferth, A.L., C. McClatchy and M. Paukett. 2016. Arsenic lead and cadmium in U.S. mushrooms and substrate in relation to dietary exposure. Env. Sci. Tech., 50(17): 9661-9670.
  46. Klaassen, C.D. and M.O. Amdur. 2013. Casarett and Doull’s toxicology: The basic science of poisons (9th edn). McGraw Hill Medical.
  47. Vinceti, M., et al. 2014. Selenium neurotoxicity in humans: Bridging laboratory and epidemiologic studies. Toxicol. Lett., 230(2): 295-303.
  48. USEPA. 2010. Risk-based concentration table (mid-Atlantic risk assessment). U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
  49. Harrison, P.A., et al. 2006. Modelling climate change impacts on species distributions at the European scale: Implications for conservation policy. Env. Sci. Poll., 9(2): 116-128.