Loads of hazardous substances to coastal waters
Assessment made on 01 May 2004
ClassificationWater (Primary theme)
Coasts and seas
- WHS 007
Policy issue: Are direct and riverine loads to seas decreasing?
Direct and riverine inputs of cadmium, mercury, lead, lindane and PCB into the North-East Atlantic have decreased in relation to 1990-1992 loads, showing the effect of pollution abatement policies.
Cadmium, mercury, lead, DDT, lindane and PCB are the subject of this fact sheet. The metals and lindane are on the Dangerous Substances Directive list of 33 priority substances. The average sum of 1990-1992 direct and riverine inputs to the north-east Atlantic of cadmium (about 101 tonnes), mercury (34 tonnes) and lead (1739 tonnes) was reduced to 60, 56 and 84%, respectively for the period 1993-1997 and remained about the same for the 1998-2001 period (Figure 1). There have been significant reductions of emissions to air for these metals (71, 82 and 75%, respectively) between 1985 and 1999 from some North Sea countries (EEA 2003b). According to Helcom (2002i) the atmospheric input of cadmium and lead to the Baltic Sea has decreased about 4% between 1996 and 2000 and mercury 14% (Helcom 2002i). The sum of direct and riverine inputs of lindane (1786 tonnes in 1990) and PCB (3097 tonnes) in the north-east Atlantic was reduced to 92 and 79%, respectively for the 1993-1997 period, and 57 and 65? respectively for the 1998-2001 period (Figure 1). There is no data for the input of DDT the sea regions considered. Lindane emissions to the Baltic have decreased by almost two orders of magnitude between 1990-1998, but deposition has only decreased by14% probably due to atmospheric input from elsewhere (Helcom 2002i). These results indicate that abatement measures have had a positive affect initially (1993-1997) for the reduction of cadmium, mercury, lead, lindane and PCB inputs to the north-east Atlantic and Baltic Sea. Further reduction in emissions following this period (1998-2001) is not readily apparent for the metals. Insufficient input information is available for the Mediterranean and the Black Seas. The possible impact these inputs have on concentrations and trends in biota are discussed in the EEA fact sheet on concentration of hazardous substances in European Seas (EEA 2003c).
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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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