Metal concentrations of common freshwater and marine fish from the Pearl River Delta, South China


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Sediments and fish, including tilapia (Oreochromis mossambicus), bighead carp (Aristichthys nobilis), grass carp (Ctenopharyngodon idellus), and mandarin fish (Siniperca chuatsi) were collected from different fish ponds in the Pearl River Delta (Tanzhou, Sanjiao, Guangzhou, Shipai, Changan, and Mai Po) for the analysis of metalloids and heavy metals [arsenic (As), cadmium (Cd), chromium (Cr), mercury (Hg), and lead (Pb)]. The pollution of As in pond sediments was great; however, As in the edible parts of pond fish were within the international permissible safety levels for human consumption. Axial muscles from 10 species each of freshwater and marine fish purchased from markets in Hong Kong were also analyzed for As, Cd, Cr, Cu, Hg, Ni, Pb and Zn. Freshwater fish contained 0.24 to 2.13 mg/kg As, 0.10 to 0.17 mg/kg Cd, 0.09 to 0.36 mg/kg Cr, 0.06 to 0.35 mg/kg Cu, 0.07 to 0.34 mg/kg Hg, 0.04 to 0.36 mg/kg Ni, 0.11 to 0.52 mg/kg Pb, and 2.67 to 19.1 mg/kg Zn (wet weight). Marine fish had higher Hg and lower Pb concentrations than freshwater fish. A few fish species had average concentrations greater than the international standards for Cd and Pb established by the European Union and the China National Standard Management Department. Total Hg concentrations in 10 of 20 market fish species were generally greater than those of the World Health Organization's recommended limit of 0.2 mg/kg for at-risk groups, such as children and pregnant women. Daily intake through fish consumption of these metals were compared with the Provisional Tolerable Weekly Intake proposed by the Joint Food and Agriculture Organization/World Health Organization Expert Committee on Food Additives. There appears to be potential threat to local people from Hg contamination because of the high marine fish consumption rate (142 g/d/person). Copyright © 2007 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)705-715
JournalArchives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - May 2008


Cheung, K. C., Leung, H. M., & Wong, M. H. (2008). Metal concentrations of common freshwater and marine fish from the Pearl River Delta, South China. Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, 54(4), 705-715. doi: 10.1007/s00244-007-9064-7


  • Freshwater fish
  • Marine fish
  • Fish consumption
  • Grass carp
  • United States Environmental Protection Agency


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