Preservation of fish by drying over different types of heat regimes have been known. However, there has not been a comprehensive comparison in terms of the possible contamination associated with these drying regimes. This work was set to evaluate the levels of PAHs that are likely to accumulate in the bodies of fresh water fishes dried under heat from charcoal, sun (sun drying), electric oven and polythene augmented drying regimes (burning of used cellophone materials). The levels of sixteen PAHs were determined in fish samples harvested from Otuocha River in Anambra State, Nigeria. The fish samples were dried, pulverized and subjected to soxhlet extraction using n-hexane at 600c for 8hrs. The water content of the eluants were further removed with florisil clean-up before Gas chromatographic – mass spectrometric analysis. Results obtained showed that sun-dried fish had PAHs concentration to be 35.7+
0.2µg/g; oven dried gave 47.7+ 0.2µg/g and charcoal dried 79.53+ 0.2µg/g, while drying with firewood resulted in 188.1+ 0.2µg/g. Charcoal drying augmented with polythene resulted into PAHs level of 166.2+ 0.1µg/g while fish dried under heat generated from burning firewood and polythene material resulted into PAHs concentration of 696.3+0.2µg/g. Preliminary analysis of the fresh water samples and the undried fish samples (control) revealed that the fresh water contained total PAHs level of 2.86+ 0.1µg/ml, while the fresh fish 4.97+ 0.2µg/g. The concentration of PAHs in all the dried fish under different drying agents were significantly higher than the control. The result is more worrisome in that even the fishes dried under the sun have PAHs significantly higher than that of the control (p<0.05). It is apparent that the increase in PAHs must have come from the environmental PAHs (exposure) under which the fishes were dried (under sun). For the other drying regimes, in which the levels of PAHs were significantly higher than that of sun-dried, it can be concluded that the excessive PAHs in the body of the dried fish were from the “burning” or drying agents. More significantly are the observed very high increase in PAHs when drying was augmented with polythene, an agent known to be a high source of PAHs when incinerated. Consumers of dried fish should therefore beware of the dried fish they purchase from the local market.