Environmental Geochemistry and Health

, Volume 36, Issue 6, pp 1015–1027 | Cite as

Shark fin, a symbol of wealth and good fortune may pose health risks: the case of mercury

  • Yu Bon Man
  • Sheng Chun Wu
  • Ming Hung WongEmail author
Original Paper


There is a lack of information concerning human health risks due to exposure to mercury contained in shark fins, through dietary intake. Health risk assessment of shark fins, collected from 5 cities in China: Hong Kong (HK), Beijing, Shanghai (SH), Haikou (HN) and Wenzhou (WZ), was conducted, based on total mercury and methylmercury, and analyzed by a cold vapor atomic fluorescence spectrometry equipped with high-performance liquid chromatography, respectively. The results showed that 16.8 % samples from HK, 8.3 % from SH, 33.3 % from HN, and 16.8 % from WZ were regarded as unsafe for human consumption. Extremely high consumption rates of shark fins for an adult and a child (0.150 and 0.0807 kg/day, respectively), at 95th centile, samples from WZ demonstrated high non-cancer risks (adverse health effects) (Hazard Quotient = 16.0) on adults (aged 25–65), and samples from SH, HN and WZ also showed high non-cancer risks (Hazard Quotient = 12.9, 21.0, and 34.4, respectively) on children (aged 1–7). Consumption of shark fins may be detrimental to human health.


Mercury Methylmercury Shark fins Non-cancer risk Health risk assessment 



The authors would like to thank WildAid and the Seed Collaborative Research Fund from the State Key Laboratory in Marine Pollution (SCRF0003) for financial support.

Supplementary material

10653_2014_9598_MOESM1_ESM.doc (88 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 88 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yu Bon Man
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Sheng Chun Wu
    • 1
    • 3
  • Ming Hung Wong
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.School of Environmental and Resource SciencesZhejiang Agriculture and Forestry UniversityLin’anChina
  2. 2.Department of Science and Environmental StudiesThe Hong Kong Institute of EducationTai Po, Hong KongChina
  3. 3.State Key Laboratory in Marine Pollution, Croucher Institute for Environmental SciencesHong Kong Baptist University and City University of Hong KongHong KongChina

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