The aim of this study was to investigate the distribution of mercury compounds in marine sediments and mussel tissues collected in the lagoon of Bizerte, Tunisia, during two seasons (summer and winter). Inorganic mercury (Hg2 ) concentrations in sediments were found to be highly variable, ranging from 0.04 nmol.g−1 to 3.22 nmol.g−1 (dry weight) with a mean value of 0.52 nmol.g−1. Anthropogenic sources of Hg2 , most probably metallurgy or tire production industries, have been evidenced. The mean concentration of monomethylmercury (MeHg ) in the surface sediments is 2.32 pmol g−1 ranging from below the detection limit (0.45 pmol.g−1) to 14.6 pmol.g−1. No significant variation was observed between winter and summer seasons for both mercury species concentration in the sediments. The Hg2 concentrations in mussel tissues are also variable, ranging from 0.007 to 1.347 nmol.g−1 (dry weight). The mean concentration is 0.70 nmol.g−1. In these tissues, Hg2 is generally the major compound, making up ca. 88% of total mercury concentrations. However, methylmercury concentrations are significant and homogeneous, ranging from 62 to 121 pmol.g−1 (mean 96 pmol.g−1). The results suggest that a fraction of the inorganic mercury load in the sediments of the lagoon undergoes methylation pathways. MeHg produced is assimilated in the mussels more readily than Hg2 .
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Vol. 8 • No. 2