Methylated arsenic from marine fauna


IT has long been known that certain species of marine animals contain arsenic in their tissues at concentrations up to 100 p.p.m. (ref. 1), and there is little doubt that this arsenic is naturally acquired and does not reflect environmental pollution. The toxicity of arsenic is dependent on its chemical environment and valency state2,3. Since the demonstration of the rapid and complete excretion by the human kidney of arsenic consumed in fish and shellfish1,4, it has been accepted that such arsenic is in an organic and nontoxic form5. Clearly full toxicological evaluation of the arsenic in marine animals awaits the elucidation of the precise chemical nature of that arsenic. We have found that mussels (Mytilus edulis planulatus Lamarck), western rock lobster (Panulirus longipes cygnus George), and stingray (Dasyatis thetidis Waite) contain dimethylated and trimethylated arsenic together with a small proportion of inorganic arsenic.

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EDMONDS, J., FRANCESCONI, K. Methylated arsenic from marine fauna. Nature 265, 436 (1977).

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