Trace organic contamination in biota collected from the Pearl River Estuary, China: A preliminary risk assessment

S. WEI, R. K. F. LAU, C. N. FUNG, G. J. ZHENG, Chung Wah James LAM, D. W. CONNELL, Z. FANG, B. J. RICHARDSON, P. K. S. LAM

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The marine ecosystem of the Pearl River Delta, located on the southern coast of China, has been heavily exploited following the rapid economic growth that has occurred since the 1980s. This investigation aimed to elucidate trace organic contamination in marine biota inhabiting the Pearl River Delta area. Biota samples, including green-lipped mussels (Perna viridis), oysters (Crassostrea rivularis) and shrimp (Penaeus orientalis) were sampled from 16 stations fringing the Estuary. Elevated concentrations (on a dry weight basis) of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (27.8–1041.0 ng/g), petroleum hydrocarbons (1.7–2345.4 μg/g), polychlorinated biphenyls (2.1–108.8 ng/g), DDTs (1.9–79.0 ng/g), and hexachlorocyclohexanes (n.d.–38.4 ng/g) were recorded. A human health risk assessment was conducted to estimate the risk to local residents associated with the consumption of biota collected from the Pearl River Estuary. The results indicated that PCBs were at levels that may cause deleterious health effects in populations that consume large amounts of seafood. However, it would be instructive to establish health criteria for trace organic contaminants that are specific to the local populations, in order to derive a more accurate and relevant health risk assessment. Copyright © 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1682-1694
JournalMarine Pollution Bulletin
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2006


Risk assessment
risk assessment
Health risks
Polychlorinated biphenyls
health risk
Crassostrea rivularis
Perna canaliculus
Fenneropenaeus chinensis
Perna viridis

Bibliographical note

Wei, S., Lau, R. K. F., Fung, C. N., Zheng, G. J., Lam, J. C. W., Connell, D. W., . . . Lam, P. K. S. (2006). Trace organic contamination in biota collected from the Pearl River Estuary, China: A preliminary risk assessment. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 52(12), 1682-1694. doi: 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2006.06.009


  • Pearl River Delta
  • Trace organic contamination
  • Biota
  • Health risks
  • Seafood consumers