Semester of Graduation

Summer 2018


International Master of Environmental Sciences (IMES)


Environmental Sciences

Document Type



Ample evidence has demonstrated the neurotoxic properties of organic Hg to humans. However, recent studies have proposed the protective effects of Se against organic Hg detected in marine fish. Louisiana’s freshwater bodies are exploited by recreational anglers that enjoy fishing as recreational activity and food source. Thus, testing of Hg in Louisiana was resumed in 2017 to update the state advisories. However, before drawing conclusions based solely on organic Hg, it might be useful to see how much Se is present in freshwater fish. The main objective of this study was to determine the Se:Hg molar ratio in Louisiana’s freshwater fish; the ratios should be greater than 1.0 to expect Se’s protective effects. Five waterbodies were surveyed (University lake, Calcasieu lake, Toledo Bend, Atchafalaya River, and Henderson lake). The last three are listed in the state advisory. The fish’s fillet from species such as: Black drum, Catfish, Largemouth bass, Bluegill, Gizzard shad; were tested for total Hg via Direct Mercury Analyzer. Testing for Se used the same fish samples for determination via ICP-MS. The results revealed Hg concentrations on Louisiana’s fish were all under the 1 ppm EPA limit and LDEQ limit of 0.88 ppm (from 0.0063 to 0.67 ppm). However, Se concentrations were variable for different species and locations (from 0.024 to 0.886 ppm). Therefore, the calculated Se:Hg molar ratios were variable. Some ratios may suggest a relationship by species; like in Black drum and Catfish. Notwithstanding, large species (Bass) accumulate large amounts of Hg that exceed Se concentrations. That explained the low ratios for Se in Henderson lake’s bass but, is not true for Atchafalaya’s bass. Thus, fish from locations highly polluted with Hg apparently have Se:Hg molar ratios less than 1. There is no clear dominant variable (species or location) on the ratio determination. In conclusion, the predicted variability of Se in freshwater fish by other scholars were observed in this study. Apparently, location and species are variables with unpredictable dominant roles. For proper evaluation of state advisory, both might be considered independently for any particular freshwater body.



Committee Chair

Laws, Edward