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Regular version of the site

Article

Ecosystem and human health assessment in relation to aquatic environment pollution by heavy metals: case study of the Murmansk region, northwest of the Kola Peninsula, Russia

Environmental Research Letters. 2018. Vol. 13. No. 6. P. 1-13.

Throughout the Euro-Arctic region of Russia (Murmansk region), there is a substantial increase of metal concentrations in water, which are related to local discharges from the metallurgical and mining industry, transboundary pollution, as well as indirect leaching of elements by acid precipitation. This study collates data to investigate the relationship between surface water contamination by metals, and fish and human health. Fish are used as a biological indicator to show the impact of water pollution by metals on the ecosystem's health. The etiology of fish and human diseases are related to the water pollution and accumulation of metals in organisms. High concentrations of Ni and Cd in water drives an accumulation of these elements in organs and tissues of fish, especially in kidneys. The relation between the accumulation of Ni in kidneys and the development of fish nephrocalcinosis and fibroelastosis was established. Statistical analysis demonstrated that human populations in cities close in proximity to smelters show the highest incidence of disease. The results of histological, clinical, and post-mortem examination of patients shows the highest content of toxic metals, especially Cd, in livers and kidneys. Our complex investigation of a set of disorders observed in fish and human populations indicates that there is a high probability that the negative impact on human health is caused by prolonged water contamination by heavy metals. As a novel finding, this paper shows that based on the similarity of pathological processes and bioaccumulation of metals in fish and humans, examining the content of heavy metals in fish can be used to confirm etiology and evaluate the potential risk to human health by pollution of surface waters.