Hazardous substances in marine organisms
Assessment made on 01 Jun 2004
ClassificationWater (Primary theme)
Coasts and seas
- WHS 6_WHS7
Policy issue: Is pollution of marine waters with hazardous substances decreasing?
There is an indication of decreasing concentrations of cadmium, mercury, lead, DDT, lindane and PCB in mussels from the north-east Atlantic. There is an indication of decreasing concentrations of lead, and to a lesser degree cadmium in mussels from the Mediterranean Sea, and in mercury, lindane and to a lesser degree PCB in herring from the Baltic Sea, showing the effects of abatement policies.
The concentrations and trends of cadmium, mercury, lead, DDT, lindane and PCB are assessed in this fact sheet. The metals and lindane are on the Dangerous Substances Directive list of 33 priority substances. The decrease in inputs to the north-east Atlantic since 1990-1992 (EEA 2003c) is reflected in the general decrease in concentrations in mussels and fish in this region (Figure 1 and 2). This indicates that the measures and initiatives to reduce the input of these substances and to protect the marine environment are of some success. Abatement policies have also been in effect for the Baltic Sea and concentrations in herring have decreased for mercury, DDT, lindane and PCB, but concentrations for cadmium and lead have increased in the period 1993-1997 compared to 1990-1992 (Figure 1). Considering that values are generally low for cadmium but "moderate" for lead, attention should be given to lead loads the Baltic. The assessment of the Mediterranean is based on contributions from only three countries, France, Italy and Greece. Policies to reduce pollution have been in effect here and regional time trends indicate that cadmium, lead and lindane in mussels has been most influenced (Figure 1). Concentrations of PCBs in mussels (only Italian data) are "moderate" for many stations and warrant some concern. There was insufficient data to do a trend analysis on the PCB data so the effect of policies can not be assessed. Data for the Black Sea concerned only 1-3 measurement stations for one year (2001) and it is not justified to make any general conclusion about this Sea region.
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This briefing is part of the EEA's report The European Environment - State and Outlook 2015. The EEA is an official agency of the EU, tasked with providing information on Europe’s environment.
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