Dioxins, PCBs and heavy metals in Chinese mitten crabs from Dutch rivers and lakes

Chemosphere. 2015 Mar:123:1-8. doi: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2014.10.055. Epub 2014 Nov 27.


Chinese mitten crab is an invasive species in many European rivers and lakes. Data from the UK indicated high levels of dioxins and PCBs, in particular in the brown meat in the body. This was confirmed by studies in the Netherlands, showing average levels of dioxins and PCBs in the meat in the body of 43 pg TEQ g(-1) ww in crabs caught in the large rivers. Levels in crab of lakes in the Northern part of the Netherlands were on average 3.7-fold lower. Consumption of crabs from polluted areas results in a relatively high dose of dioxins and dl-PCBs and could significantly increase the intake above the TWI. However, in general consumption of these crabs is low, even in the Asian sub-population in the Netherlands. Cadmium and lead levels were higher in crabs from contaminated areas, but for mercury and arsenic there was no clear difference. Consumption of crabs would not result in significant risks for cadmium and mercury. For lead the daily intake could be raised above the BMDL01 for neurodevelopmental toxicity, but this would only occur on a limited number of days. For arsenic the exposure would exceed the lower end of the BMDL01 values for certain cancers, but again, the infrequent consumption by most consumers reduces this risk. Furthermore, speciation showed that most arsenic in crabs was probably not a toxic inorganic form, but likely to be in an organic form.

Keywords: Brown meat; Chinese mitten crabs; Dioxins; Heavy metals; PCBs; Speciation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brachyura / chemistry*
  • Brachyura / metabolism
  • Dioxins / analysis*
  • Environmental Monitoring*
  • Female
  • Food Contamination / analysis
  • Humans
  • Introduced Species
  • Lakes*
  • Male
  • Metals, Heavy / analysis*
  • Netherlands
  • Organ Specificity
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls / analysis*
  • Rivers*
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / analysis


  • Dioxins
  • Metals, Heavy
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls