Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 20, Issue 7, pp 4484–4495 | Cite as

Arsenic contamination in the freshwater fish ponds of Pearl River Delta: bioaccumulation and health risk assessment

  • Zhang Cheng
  • Kun-Ci Chen
  • Kai-Bin Li
  • Xiang-Ping NieEmail author
  • Sheng Chun Wu
  • Chris Kong-Chu Wong
  • Ming-Hung WongEmail author
Research Article


This study investigated the extent of arsenic (As) contamination in five common species of freshwater fish (northern snakehead [Channa argus], mandrarin fish [Siniperca chuatsi], largemouth bass [Lepomis macrochirous], bighead carp [Aristichthys nobilis] and grass carp [Ctenopharyngodon idellus]) and their associated fish pond sediments collected from 18 freshwater fish ponds around the Pearl River Delta (PRD). The total As concentrations detected in fish muscle and sediment in freshwater ponds around the PRD were 0.05–3.01 mg kg−1 wet weight (w. wt) and 8.41–22.76 mg kg−1 dry weight (d. wt), respectively. In addition, the As content was positively correlated (p < 0.05) to total organic carbon (TOC) contents in sediments. Biota sediment accumulation factor (BSAF) showed that omnivorous fish and zooplankton accumulated higher concentrations of heavy metals from the sediment than carnivorous fish. In addition, feeding habits of fish also influence As accumulation in different fish species. In this study, two typical food chains of the aquaculture ponds were selected for investigation: (1) omnivorous food chain (zooplankton, grass carp and bighead carp) and (2) predatory food chain (zooplankton, mud carp and mandarin fish). Significant linear relationships were obtained between log As and δ 15N. The slope of the regression (−0.066 and −0.078) of the log transformed As concentrations and δ 15N values, as biomagnifications power, indicated there was no magnification or diminution of As from lower trophic levels (zooplankton) to fish in the aquaculture ponds. Consumption of largemouth bass, northern snakehead and bighead carp might impose health risks of Hong Kong residents consuming these fish to the local population, due to the fact that its cancer risk (CR) value exceeded the upper limit of the acceptable risk levels (10−4) stipulated by the USEPA.


Arsenic Environmental assessment Bioaccumulation Biomagnification Aquaculture fish Pearl River Delta 



Financial support from the Environmental and Conservation Fund (37/2009) and Special Equipment Grant (SEG, HKBU 09) of the Research Grants Council of Hong Kong are gratefully acknowledged. The authors thank Kunci Chen, Kaibin Li (Pearl River Fisheries Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Fishery Sciences, Guangzhou, PR China), and Jufang Chen (Institute of the Hydrobiology, Jinan University, Guangzhou, PR China) for field assistance.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zhang Cheng
    • 1
  • Kun-Ci Chen
    • 2
  • Kai-Bin Li
    • 2
  • Xiang-Ping Nie
    • 3
    Email author
  • Sheng Chun Wu
    • 1
    • 4
  • Chris Kong-Chu Wong
    • 1
  • Ming-Hung Wong
    • 1
    • 4
    Email author
  1. 1.Croucher Institute for Environmental Sciences, and Department of BiologyHong Kong Baptist UniversityHong KongHong Kong
  2. 2.Pearl River Fisheries Research InstituteChinese Academy of Fishery SciencesGuangzhouChina
  3. 3.Institute of the HydrobiologyJinan UniversityGuangzhouChina
  4. 4.State Key Laboratory in Marine Pollution, and Department of Biology and ChemistryCity University of Hong KongHong KongHong Kong

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