Guánica Bay, located in southwestern Puerto Rico, has suffered oil spills and other pollution discharges since the 1960s. Previous research showed elevated concentrations of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in coral reef and sediment. This research examined PCB concentrations in sediment and fish. Sediment and fish sampling in the bay was facilitated by community members. This study identified the second highest reported PCB level (129,300 ng/g) in sediment in the USA. Fish samples also showed elevated concentrations (1623 to 3768 ng/g), which were higher than the thresholds of safe levels of PCBs in fish for human consumption. The alarmingly high concentration of PCBs calls for proactive community engagement to bring awareness about contamination of the bay and more extensive sampling to test for the concentration of PCBs in seafood and the people of Guánica. This study also underscores the value of the involvement of local communities during sampling design aimed at identifying hot spots of contaminants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2003-2013
Number of pages11
JournalEnvironmental Science and Pollution Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 1 2016


  • Community-based participatory approach
  • Fish
  • Guánica
  • Health risks
  • PCB
  • PCB exposure
  • Sediment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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