Bioaccumulation of mercury and polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and dibenzofurans in salty water organisms

  • Pei-Yu Liao
  • Chen-Wuing LiuEmail author
  • Wen-Yao Liu


Mercury and polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and dibenzofurans (PCDD/Fs) accumulate in organisms through food webs and exert potentially toxic effects on aquatic organisms and humans. This study examined the levels of mercury and PCDD/Fs in organisms and sediment samples collected from a saltwater pond at the An-Shun site, a chloralkali factory that shut down in Tainan City, Taiwan. It was also a pentachlorophenol production plant. After the factories were shut down in the 1980s, mercury and PCDD/Fs contamination remained, posing severe health hazards. The correlation between PCDD/Fs congener accumulation patterns in distinct fish organs and the sediment was evaluated. Mercury and PCDD/Fs levels in all the fish samples exceeded food safety limits, and the concentrations of mercury and PCDD/Fs in each species were closely correlated (n = 12, Spearman’s rank correlation [R] = 0.811, p < 0.01). The mercury concentrations were positively but non-significantly correlated with the weight (n = 11, R = 0.741, p < 0.01) and length (n = 11, R = 0.618, p < 0.05) of the species. The fish likely accumulated the contaminants through ingestion of other organisms or the sediment. However, after the pollutants entered a fish, they exhibited distinct accumulation patterns because of their differing chemical properties. Specifically, the mercury concentration was correlated with organism weight and length, whereas the PCDD/Fs concentration was associated with organ lipid content. The study results are valuable for assessing the health risks associated with ingesting mercury- and PCFF/F-contaminated seafood from the study site.


Polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and dibenzofurans (PCDD/Fs) Mercury (Hg) Biota-to-sediment accumulation factors (BSAFs) Lipid content Trophic level 



This study was partly supported by China Petrochemical Development Corporation.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Bioenvironmental Systems EngineeringNational Taiwan UniversityTaipeiRepublic of China
  2. 2.MWH Americas Inc., Taiwan BranchTaipeiRepublic of China

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