Exposure of Taiwan Residents to Polychlorinated Biphenyl Congeners from Farmed, Ocean-Caught, and Imported Fish

This study is to assess PCB levels in five frequently consumed fish species in Taiwan, tilapia, milkfish, white pomfret, hairtail, and cod. Seventeen congeners were measured in fillet samples purchased from major markets in northern, central, and southern Taiwan. All 136 samples had traces of PCBs. The median concentrations were 0.18, 0.46, 0.62, 0.69, and 7.34 ng/g wet wt and 1.01, 0.28, 1.14, 5.06, and 19.3 pg-WHO-TEQ/g lipid in tilapia, milkfish, white pomfret, hairtail, and cod samples, respectively. Cod (the imported fish) had the highest wet weight PCB concentrations. The fish caught off-shore (white pomfret and hairtail) had higher levels than the farmed fish (tilapia and milkfish). The congener profiles varied among species. PCB 105/153 and 126 accounted for more than 28% and 53% of the 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin equivalents (WHO-TEQs) in hairtail and cod, respectively; while PCB 156 was the major TEQ contributor in the other species. The estimated median PCB intake of the general public from consumption of the five species ranged from 0.000023 to 0.048 pg-WHO-TEQ/kg/day. It was also found that samples farmed or caught along the southern coast had higher PCB levels than those from other parts of Taiwan, indicating possible elevated PCB contamination around that area.