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

Abstract

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.

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Acknowledgments

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.

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Correspondence to Ming Hung Wong.

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Yu Bon Man and Sheng Chun Wu have contributed equally to this work.

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Man, Y.B., Wu, S.C. & Wong, M.H. Shark fin, a symbol of wealth and good fortune may pose health risks: the case of mercury. Environ Geochem Health 36, 1015–1027 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10653-014-9598-3

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Keywords

  • Mercury
  • Methylmercury
  • Shark fins
  • Non-cancer risk
  • Health risk assessment