The use of muscle burden in rabbitfish Siganus oramin for monitoring polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and polychlorinated biphenyls in Victoria Harbour, Hong Kong and potential human health risk

Kar Hei Fang, Rudolf S S Wu, Gene J. Zheng, Doris W T Au, Paul K S Lam, Paul K S Shin

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


Muscle concentrations of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) were determined in rabbitfish Siganus oramin collected from Victoria Harbour and its vicinity, Hong Kong from 2004 to 2007. Spatially, relatively higher levels of ∑PAH (1.05-4.26 μg g- 1) and ∑PCB (45.1-76.9 ng g- 1) were determined in the central and western sites inside the harbour. Temporally, upward trend of ∑PAH, accompanied with a proportion shift from high molecular weight to low molecular weight PAHs, was detected during the three-year study period, suggesting a heavier marine traffic in Victoria Harbour and its western region. However, human health risk assessment based on five individual PAHs indicated that PAHs in fish muscles posed minimal health risk through consumption. In contrast, a downward trend of ∑PCB was registered as the open use of PCBs has been banned. Despite this, the level of ∑PCB in fish muscles still posed a health risk on the local people who have a high fish consumption rate. While seasonal influences on ∑PAH/∑PCB accumulation in S. oramin seemed to be negligible, our findings in S. oramin were in line with the established PAH and PCB levels in sediments and/or mussels from the harbour, suggesting S. oramin can be used as a model fish species for monitoring PAHs and PCBs in the region.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4327-4332
Number of pages6
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Persistent organic pollutants
  • Pollution monitoring
  • Siganus oramin
  • Southeast Asia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Pollution
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Environmental Engineering

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