The Mandinga Lagoon in the Mexican State of Veracruz is an important ecological zone that produces 32% of the oyster output in the state of Veracruz, the main oyster producer in Mexico. Samples of water, sediment, and oysters were collected in 2003 and 2004 to study heavy metal pollution. Metal concentrations were determined in water, soil, and oyster tissues from fresh and detoxified Crassostrea virginica, and histology samples were analyzed. Metal (Cr, Cd, and Pb) concentrations in water were within the Mexican legal limits. The recorded values in sediments corresponded to those not producing biological effects (ERL). In the tissues, the highest concentrations corresponded to Pb, above 5.84 µgg-1 dry weight (d.w.); Cd was of 2.23 µgg-1 d.w., and Cr above 6 µgg-1 d.w. The metal levels detected in oysters exceeded the maximum permissible limits (MPL) for Cd and Pb, and oysters were unable to eliminate the concentrations of the bioaccumulated metals during the detoxification stage. The histopathological analysis revealed lesions in the digestive gland, edema, atrophy of epithelia in the digestive tubules, the presence of brown vesicles, hemocytic reaction, and necrosis. During detoxification, a higher number of epithelia were observed in the tubules, as well as an increase in brown vesicles and hemocytic reaction. Forty seven percent of oysters presented histopathological lesions related to metal concentrations. It is important to monitor metal concentrations, to detect the source of pollution, andto evaluate the effects on organisms to establish culture areas and adequate criteria for the exploitation of such an important fishery resource.
Keywords: , cadmium, chromium, heavy metals, histopathological damage, oyster