Tissue distribution of triphenyltin compounds in marine teleost fishes

Ronia Chung-tin SHAM, Kevin K.Y. HO, Tommy T.Y. HUI, Guang Jie ZHOU, Janet K.Y. CHAN, Kenneth M.Y. LEUNG*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Continuous release of the highly toxic triphenyltin compounds (TPT) from antifouling paints and fungicides has caused serious pollution to urbanized coastal marine environments worldwide since the 1960s. Using gas-chromatography mass-spectrometry (GC–MS), this study investigated the distribution profile of TPT in 15 types of tissues of four marine teleost fish species collected from Hong Kong waters. Concentrations of TPT in various tissues had a significant positive correlation with protein contents in the tissues (r = 0.346, p < 0.001) and, to a lesser extent with lipid contents (r = 0.169, p = 0.020). Highest concentrations of TPT were consistently found in liver, ranging from 1074.9 to 3443.7 ng/g wet weight; whereas fish scales always contained the least concentration of TPT in all species, ranging from 10.4 to 48.5 ng/g wet weight. Through mass balance models and regression analyses, muscle tissues were found to contribute most to the total TPT body burden, and the average TPT concentration of both dorsal and ventral muscles was identified as the best predictor for estimating TPT burden in the entire fish. Hence, further investigations of bioaccumulation and biomagnification of TPT in fishes should adopt this modelling approach in estimating its total body burden in individual fish.

Original languageEnglish
Article number123426
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Hazardous Materials
Early online date7 Jul 2020
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jan 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

This work was jointly supported by the Research Grants Council of the Government of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) via a Collaborative Research Fund [CRF Project No. HKU5/CRF/12G] and a Small Project Fund of the University of Hong Kong (HKU) to Kenneth M. Y. Leung. The authors thank the Director of the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department of the Hong Kong SAR Government for granting a scientific permit for the sample collection using a shrimp trawler (scientific permit no.: R1710007). The authors are also thankful to Helen Leung and Jessie Lai for their technical support. Ronia Sham thanks HKU for providing a postgraduate studentship to support her PhD study. The authors are grateful to the Editor, Professor Diana Aga and two anonymous reviewers for providing their useful and constructive comments that helped improve the quality and clarity of this manuscript.


  • Antifouling agents
  • Bioaccumulation
  • Body burden
  • Organotins
  • Toxicokinetic


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