A Systematic Review of Organochlorinated Pesticide Residues in Caspian Sea Fishes


Mohammad Ali Zazouli 1 , Marjan Safarpour 1 , *

1 Department of Environmental Health, Faculty of Health and Health Sciences Research Center, Mazandaran University of Medical Sciences, Sari, IR Iran

How to Cite: Zazouli M A, Safarpour M. A Systematic Review of Organochlorinated Pesticide Residues in Caspian Sea Fishes, Health Scope. 2017 ; 6(1):e36279. doi: 10.17795/jhealthscope-36279.


Health Scope: 6 (1); e36279
Published Online: August 28, 2016
Article Type: Review Article
Received: April 26, 2016
Revised: July 5, 2016
Accepted: August 14, 2016




Context: The worldwide production and application of pesticides, especially organochlorine in agriculture can have adverse environmental pollution and human health risks. Thus, this review evaluated and summarized the toxicological data on the existence and concentrations of organochlorine compounds in Caspian sea fish tissues.

Evidence Acquisition: The data were collected from published articles in PubMed, ISI, SID, Google Scholar and so on.

Results: The review showed that nine studies were recorded in databases about pesticide residues in Caspian sea fish tissues. These studies reported that there is limited evidence of organochlorinated compounds in Caspian sea fishes. All researchers detected organochlorine contaminants in examined fishes in the studied area, however DDTs was the predominant pesticides. Heptachlor, Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) and Linden were ranked next, respectively.

Conclusions: In conclusion, toxicological studies showed that, although contamination level in Caspian sea fishes was relatively low, the present status might pose a risk about food chain contamination.


Pesticide Residues Fish Environmental Toxicology Systematic Review DDTs

Copyright © 2016, Health Promotion Research Center. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/) which permits copy and redistribute the material just in noncommercial usages, provided the original work is properly cited.

1. Context

1.1. Caspian Sea

The Caspian sea (CS) with a volume and surface area of 78000 km3 and 380000 km2, respectively, is the biggest land body of water in the world and a unique system that is surrounded by five countries: Iran (900 km), Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Russia (1). The Caspian sea has about 130 river inputs, but no output (1-3). Various pollutants have accumulated in the Caspian sea due to many human activity sewages, agricultural and industrial waste flowing into the landlocked system, which threaten directly or indirectly environment and human health especially through the food chain (4, 5).

1.2. Organochlorinated Pesticide

The use of pesticides and fertilizers has been substantially increased to increase additional production of crops around the world as a consequence of increased human population (6-8). In spite of the potential to prevent and control insects, disease vector and weed, some pesticides such as Organochlorine pesticides (OCs) can be toxic to human health, wildlife and have deleterious impacts on the environment (9, 10). There is strong evidence on the association with a wide range of diseases and exposure to pesticides (11). Exposure to organochlorine pesticides may result in health-related complications including reproductive defects (12, 13), carcinogenic effects (14) breast cancer risk (15) and behavioral changes (16). Organochlorinated pesticides are chlorinated hydrocarbons that are composed primarily of carbon, hydrogen and several chlorine atoms per molecule (16, 17). Due to their hydrophobic characteristics, resistance to degradation, toxicity, least solubility in water, bioaccumulative nature, low vapour pressures and long-range transport and trans-boundary dispersion, the control of OCs in the environment is a real necessity (6, 17-19). Some of the most representative compounds in this group are the Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) and its analogues, isomers of Benzene Hexachloride (BHC), heptachlor, chlordane, aldrin, mirex, chlordecone, toxaphene and some isomers of Hexachlorocyclohexane (HCH), such lindane (17). Organochlorine pesticides break down slowly in the environment and bioaccumulate in the food chain such as fish tissues (16, 20). The objective of the present study was to conduct a systematic review of the available literature to assess the toxicological data and to give an integrated illustration of the concentrations of organochlorine compounds in Caspian Sea fishes.

2. Evidence Acquisition

2.1. Study Identification and Selection

2.1.1. Study Identification

All titles or abstracts of publications in English and Persian language were screened by a search of four Internet databases (PubMed, ISI, SID, and Google Scholar) from 1999 to 2012, to identify suitable articles. Various combinations of the following key phrases were used: Caspian Sea, organochlorinated pesticide, fish, environmental toxicology.

2.1.2. Study Selection

A study was considered for further review if 1, it referred to organochlorinated pesticide residues in Caspian Sea fishes; 2, and if the publication presented original Data. A publication was excluded if it had the following criteria: non-English or non-Persian language publication, book chapters and published articles that reported pesticide contamination in animals except fish; these items were unavoidable limitations in our study.

2.2. Data Extraction

The following data on the study characteristics were derived from each included study: the first author's last name, publication year, geographic location, type of fishes and pollutant studied.

No modification of original data was done. The basic characteristics of outcome data from eligible studies in this review are reported in Table 1.

3. Results

3.1. Description of Studies

The electronic searches identified a total of 53 articles, 41 were excluded after title and abstract screening due to lack of relationship and report of sufficient information. Two articles were duplicates; one was excluded for inavailability of full text. Figure 1 describes a flow- diagram for the articles screening procedure.

Flow Chart of the Study Selection Process
Figure 1. Flow Chart of the Study Selection Process
Table 1. Basic Characteristics of Included Studies
ReferenceGeographic LocationType of FishesPollutant Studied
Kajiwara et al. (2003)Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and IranBeluga, Russian Sturgeon, Stellate Sturgeon, Persian Sturgeon, Ship SturgeonPCBs, DDTs, CHLs HCHs, HCB,HP epox, Dieldrin TCPMOH
Kajiwara et al. (2008)Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, and IranCaspian Roach, Monkey Goby, Round Goby, Caspian Sprat, Anchovy Sprat, Caspian SandsmeltPCBs, DDTs, HCHs CHLs, HP epox, HCB, TCPMOH, TCPMe
Shokrzadeh et al. (2006)IranSefid, Kilca, Koli, KafalChlorobenzilate
Keshavarzi fard et al. (2008)IranStellate SturgeonLindane, Heptachlor, Dieldrin, Aldrin and DDT
Vaezzadeh et al. (2008)IranCyprinus Carpio, Rutilus Frisiilindane, heptachlor, aldrin, dieldrin and DDT
Shokrzadeh lamuki et al. (2012)IranRutilus Frisikutum, Clupeonella Delicatula,Mugila Auratus, Vimba VimbaD.D.T, D.D.A
Tanabe et al. (2003)KazakhstanAbramis Brama Rutilus sp.DDT,PCBs, HCHs, CHLs, TCPMe, and TCPMOH
Watanabe et al. (1999)RussiaRutilus sp.PCBs, DDTs, HCHs, CHLs, and HCB,
Ebadi et al. (2006)IranKoli, Kafal, Sefid, Kilcalindane

3.2. Outcomes

In total, the nine remaining articles met the inclusion criteria and our main focus was on these studies (5, 21-28). Various pesticides were evaluated in each study. The details of pollution levels in fishes for each of the nine included papers are presented in Table 2. As can be seen from Figure 2, the study areas are shown in green color.

Table 2. Summary of Organochlorinated Pesticide Concentration in Eligible Studies
Reference UniteDDTsPCBsCHLsHCHsHCBDieldrinTCPMOHHeptachlor Epoxideγ-HCHChlorobenzilateLindenAldrinTCPMe
Kajiwara et al. (2003) ng/g73 - 31,000 ng/g70 - 7400 ng/g5.2 - 360 ng/g16 - 99 µg/g3.0 - 71 ng/g2.0 - 23 ng/g0.62 - 36 ng/g0.75 - 4.7 ng/g----Was below the detection limit
Kajiwara et al. (2008)3.1 - 560 µg/g1.5 - 320 µg/g0.057 - 14 µg/g0.11 - 17 µg/g1.2 - 160 ng/g-7.3 - 9900 ng/g11 - 2600 ng/gWas below the detection limit---1.0 - 950 ng/g
Shokrzadeh et al. (2006)---------0.017 - 0.038 ppm---
keshavarzi fard et al. (2008)0.57 mg/kg----0.037 mg/kg-3.9 mg/kg--0.069 mg/kg< 0.029 mg/kg-
Vaezzadeh et al. (2008)0.1014 - 0.7522 mg/kg----0.0444 - 0.5248 mg/kg-4.2448 - 1.051 mg/kg--< 0.037 - 0.0872 mg/kg< 0.0356 - 0.037 mg/kg-
Shokrzadeh lamuki et al. (2012)0.019 - 0.031 mg/kg------------
Tanabe et al. (2003)780 - 24,000ng/g950 - 7,700ng/g41 - 490 ng/g110 – 950 ng/g2.0 - 18 ng/g-7.7 - 82 ng/g-----1.5 - 13 ng/g
Watanabe et al. (1999)0.017 - 0.024 μg/g0.033 μg/g0.0016 - 0.0008 μg/g0.010 - 0.0037 μg/g0.0016 - 0.0005 μg/g--------
Ebadi et al. (2006)----------5.51 - 49.57 g/kg--
Map of the Caspian Sea Showing the Study Areas
Figure 2. Map of the Caspian Sea Showing the Study Areas

4. Conclusions

A few studies or reviews have been published in databases about pesticide residues in Caspian Sea fish tissues. All these studies reported that there was clear evidence of organochlorinated compounds in all examined fishes collected from the Caspian sea. Table 3 presents the outcome of the DDT pesticide contamination levels in different years. The studies ranged according to the time of sample collection from 1993 to 2008. Compilation of available data from surveys indicates a downward trend of contamination. The DDT levels in samples collected showed a rapid decline during 1993 to 2008. Details from each study are summarized in Table 3. This result suggests a sign of extensive usage of organochlorinated compounds in the past, around the Caspian Sea region. In 1969, the usage of DDT was banned in the former Soviet Union, which may be an explanation for the slow decline of DDT. Maximum residue limit (MRL) established by food and agriculture organization of the United States (FAO)/world health organization (WHO) and acceptable daily intake (ADI) for five pesticides are summarized in Table 4. For example this study shows that the concentration of DDT in most studies exceeded the MRL value. Concentrations of DDT in studies of Vaezzadeh et al. (25) and Shokrzadeh lamuki et al. (23) on lipid weight basis were found to be less than the standard value.

Table 3. Organochlorine Concentrations (ng/g on lipid weight) in Fish Tissues Collected From the Caspian Sea
ReferenceDate of SamplingDDT Concentrations
Watanabe et al. (1999)1993DDT (5600-88000)
Tanabe et al. (2003)1992 - 1993 - 1995 - 1998DDT(1993 = 25000); DDT (1998 = 9200)
Kajiwara et al. (2008)2000 - 2001DDT (3100 - 560000)
Kajiwara et al. (2003)2001 - 2002DDT (73 - 31000)
Ebadi et al. (2006)2004-
Shokrzadeh et al. (2006)2004-
Vaezzadeh et al. (2008)2006DDT(321)
Shokrzadeh Lamuki et al. (2012)2008DDT (33)
Keshavarzi Fard et al. (2008)--
Table 4. Maximum Residue Limit (MRL) and Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) for Five Organochlorinated Pesticides
Reference UniteDDTDieldrinAldrinheptachlorLinden
MRL, (mg/kg lipid weight) - 0.22
ADI, (mg/kg b.w.)0 - 0.020 - 0.00010 - 0.00010 - 0.00050 - 0.008

5. Conclusion

To the best of our knowledge, this is the first review paper of OC contamination in Caspian fishes. Although a number of comprehensive studies dealing with OC contamination in other lakes have been conducted recently, investigations in Caspian Sea are limited. This review summarizes reported contamination levels in fish of the Caspian Sea and suggests that organochlorinated compounds exist in various fish samples in Caspian Sea areas. The residue pattern was in the order of DDT > Heptachlor > PCBs > Linden. Additionally, the available data indicate the average concentration of organochlorinated compounds to be less than the Maximum Residue Limit in recent studies. Although contamination level was relatively low, the present status might pose a risk for accumulation of OC in the food web and effects human health and wildlife.




  • 1.

    Nasrollahzadeh Saravi H, Din ZB, Foong SY, Makhlough A. Trophic status of the Iranian Caspian Sea based on water quality parameters and phytoplankton diversity. Continent Shelf Res. 2008; 28(9) : 1153 -65

  • 2.

    de Mora S, Villeneuve JP, Sheikholeslami MR, Cattini C, Tolosa I. Organochlorinated compounds in Caspian Sea sediments. Mar Pollut Bull. 2004; 48(1-2) : 30 -43 [PubMed]

  • 3.

    Kajiwara N, Niimi S, Watanabe M, Ito Y, Takahashi S, Tanabe S, et al. Organochlorine and organotin compounds in Caspian seals (Phoca caspica) collected during an unusual mortality event in the Caspian Sea in 2000. Environ Pollut. 2002; 117(3) : 391 -402 [PubMed]

  • 4.

    Hosseini SV, Behrooz RD, Esmaili-Sari A, Bahramifar N, Hosseini SM, Tahergorabi R, et al. Contamination by organochlorine compounds in the edible tissue of four sturgeon species from the Caspian Sea (Iran). Chemosphere. 2008; 73(6) : 972 -9 [DOI][PubMed]

  • 5.

    Saeedi Saravi SS, Otadi N. Evaluation of residues of DDT and DDA in fish collected from Caspian sea, Iran. Iran J Toxicol. 2012; 6(18) : 704 -8

  • 6.

    El Nemr A, Moneer AA, Khaled A, El-Sikaily A. Contamination and risk assessment of organochlorines in surface sediments of Egyptian Mediterranean coast. Egypt J Aquat Res. 2012; 38(1) : 7 -21

  • 7.

    Gholamalizadeh Ahangar A, Shabani A. Predicting soil sorption coefficients of an environmental pollutant herbicide (Diuron) using a neural network model. Health Scope. 2014; 3(2)

  • 8.

    Bazrafshan E, Mostafapour FK, Faridi H, Farzadkia M, Sargazi S, Sohrabi A. Removal of 2, 4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2, 4-D) from aqueous environments using single-walled carbon nanotubes. Health Scope. 2013; 2(1) : 39 -46

  • 9.

    Behrooz RD, Sari AE, Bahramifar N, Ghasempouri SM. Organochlorine pesticide and polychlorinated biphenyl residues in human milk from the Southern Coast of Caspian Sea, Iran. Chemosphere. 2009; 74(7) : 931 -7 [DOI][PubMed]

  • 10.

    Aliyeva G, Kurkova R, Hovorkova I, Klanova J, Halsall C. Organochlorine pesticides and polychlorinated biphenyls in air and soil across Azerbaijan. Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. 2012; 19(6) : 1953 -62 [DOI][PubMed]

  • 11.

    Mostafalou S, Abdollahi M. Pesticides and human chronic diseases: evidences, mechanisms, and perspectives. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 2013; 268(2) : 157 -77 [DOI][PubMed]

  • 12.

    Carreno J, Rivas A, Granada A, Jose Lopez-Espinosa M, Mariscal M, Olea N, et al. Exposure of young men to organochlorine pesticides in Southern Spain. Environ Res. 2007; 103(1) : 55 -61 [DOI][PubMed]

  • 13.

    Lemaire G, Terouanne B, Mauvais P, Michel S, Rahmani R. Effect of organochlorine pesticides on human androgen receptor activation in vitro. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 2004; 196(2) : 235 -46 [DOI][PubMed]

  • 14.

    Mahmoud AF, Ikenaka Y, Yohannes YB, Darwish WS, Eldaly EA, Morshdy AE, et al. Distribution and health risk assessment of organochlorine pesticides (OCPs) residue in edible cattle tissues from northeastern part of Egypt: High accumulation level of OCPs in tongue. Chemosphere. 2016; 144 : 1365 -71 [DOI][PubMed]

  • 15.

    Arrebola JP, Belhassen H, Artacho-Cordon F, Ghali R, Ghorbel H, Boussen H, et al. Risk of female breast cancer and serum concentrations of organochlorine pesticides and polychlorinated biphenyls: a case-control study in Tunisia. Sci Total Environ. 2015; 520 : 106 -13 [DOI][PubMed]

  • 16.

    Mrema EJ, Rubino FM, Brambilla G, Moretto A, Tsatsakis AM, Colosio C. Persistent organochlorinated pesticides and mechanisms of their toxicity. Toxicology. 2013; 307 : 74 -88 [DOI][PubMed]

  • 17.

    El-Osmani R, Net S, Dumoulin D, Baroudi M, Bakkour H, Ouddane B. Solid Phase Extraction of Organochlorine Pesticides Residues in Groundwater (Akkar Plain, North Lebanon). Int J Environ Res. 2014; 8(4) : 903 -12

  • 18.

    Salem DMSA, Khaled A, El Nemr A. Assessment of pesticides and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in sediments of the Egyptian Mediterranean Coast. Egypt J Aquat Res. 2013; 39(3) : 141 -52

  • 19.

    Imo ST, Sheikh MA, Hirosawa E, Oomori T, Tamaki F. Contamination by organochlorine pesticides from rivers. Int J Environ Sci Technol. 2007; 4(1) : 1 -9

  • 20.

    Carpenter SK, Mateus-Pinilla NE, Singh K, Lehner A, Satterthwaite-Phillips D, Bluett RD, et al. River otters as biomonitors for organochlorine pesticides, PCBs, and PBDEs in Illinois. Ecotoxicol Environ Saf. 2014; 100 : 99 -104 [DOI][PubMed]

  • 21.

    Kajiwara N, Ueno D, Monirith I, Tanabe S, Pourkazemi M, Aubrey DG. Contamination by organochlorine compounds in sturgeons from Caspian Sea during 2001 and 2002. Mar Pollut Bull. 2003; 46(6) : 741 -7 [DOI][PubMed]

  • 22.

    Kajiwara N, Watanabe M, Wilson S, Eybatov T, Mitrofanov IV, Aubrey DG, et al. Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in Caspian seals of unusual mortality event during 2000 and 2001. Environ Pollut. 2008; 152(2) : 431 -42 [DOI][PubMed]

  • 23.

    Shokrzadeh M, Ebadi AG. Investigating and measurement of residues of chlorobenzilate (organochlorine pesticides) in four species of the most consumed fishes in Caspian Sea (Iran). Pak J Nutr. 2006; 5(1) : 68 -70

  • 24.

    Keshavarzifard M, Mashinchian Moradi A, Fatemi SMR, Esmaeili Sari A. Organochlorine Pesticides in Stellate Sturgeon Muscle Tissue in South Caspian Sea. Environ Sci. 2008; 5(3) : 65 -74

  • 25.

    Vaezzadeh V, Mashinchian Moradi A, Esmaeili A, Fatemi SMR. Study of organochlorine pesticides in muscle tissue of two commercial fish species (cyprinus carpio & rutilus frisii kutum) in southwest of the caspian sea. Environ Sci. 2008; 5(3) : 65 -74

  • 26.

    Tanabe S, Niimi S, Minh TB, Miyazaki N, Petrov EA. Temporal trends of persistent organochlorine contamination in Russia: a case study of Baikal and Caspian Seal. Arch Environ Contam Toxicol. 2003; 44(4) : 533 -45 [DOI][PubMed]

  • 27.

    Watanabe M, Tanabe S, Tatsukawa R, Amano M, Miyazaki N, Petrov EA, et al. Contamination levels and specific accumulation of persistent organochlorines in Caspian seal (Phoca caspica) from the Caspian sea, Russia. Arch Environ Contam Toxicol. 1999; 37(3) : 396 -407 [PubMed]

  • 28.

    Ebadi AG, Shokrzadeh M. A survey and measurement of residues of lindane (organochlorine pesticides) in four species of the most consumed fish in the Caspian Sea (Iran). Toxicol Ind Health. 2006; 22(1) : 53 -8 [PubMed]