Levels and mass burden of DDTs in sediments from fishing harbors: The importance of DDT-containing antifouling paint to the coastal environment of China

Tian Lin, Zhaohui Hu, Gan Zhang, Xiangdong Li, Weihai Xu, Jianhui Tang, Jun Li

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

139 Citations (Scopus)


DDT remains an important type of persistent organic pollutant (POP) in the environment of China. One of the current applications of DDT in China has been through antifouling paint for fishing ships as an active component. It has been estimated that approximately 5000 t of DDT was released into the Chinese coastal environment during the last two decades. Therefore, sediments in coastal fishing harbors of China may be the important sinks of DDT. In this study, DDT and its metabolites in 58 sediment samples from nine typical fishing harbors along the coastal line of China were characterized to assess their accumulation levels, sediment burdens, and potential ecological risks. The concentrations of DDTs ranged from 9 to 7350 ng/g dry weight, which were generally 1-2 orders of magnitude higher than those of the adjacent estuarine/marine sediments. The high concentrations of DDT coupled with the lower concentrations of HCH and TOC clearly indicated a strong local DDT input, i.e., DDTcontaining antifouling paint, within the fishing harbors. A significant correlation between the total DDT concentrations and p,p'-DDT concentrations further confirmed the existence of fresh DDT input. The overall burden of DDTs within the upper 10 cm sediment layer in the fishing harbors of the Pearl River Delta, southern China, was estimated to be 1.0-5.7 t, which was several times higher than the DDT accumulation in the surface sediment of the Pearl River estuary. The concentrations of DDTs in the fishing harbor sediments significantly exceeded the sediment quality guidelines on the basis of adverse biological effects. The absence or low concentrations of p,p'-DDD in aquatic organisms and human may imply that either p,p'-DDD may be less bioaccumulated by fish and human, or is biotransformed to other metabolites. A national ban of DDT as an additive to antifouling paint was implemented in 2009 in China; however, the legacy high DDT burden in the coastal fishing harbors needs further monitoring and proper management.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8033-8038
Number of pages6
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number21
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry


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