Keywords: fish, PAH, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, seawater, sediments, shellfish
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) have been determined in marine samples for many years, but have only rarely been included in either national or international monitoring programmes. PAH can arise in the environment from natural sources, oil and petroleum products and combustion processes. Although oil spills influence PAH concentrations in local areas, the major sources of PAH are anthropogenic and derived from land-based combustion sources. PAH are globally distributed, and the highest concentrations generally occur close to urban centres. In this paper, we review those aspects relating to the analysis and monitoring of PAH in marine areas. The aim is to provide an overview of current knowledge, so as to assess the need for future monitoring of PAH and the present capability for their analysis. Further monitoring of PAH is justified because of their ubiquity in the environment, their persistence and bioaccumulative properties, and their potential for toxicity both to aquatic organisms and human consumers.