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Assessment of contaminant concentrations in sediments, fish and mussels sampled from the North Atlantic and European regional seas within the ICON project.

  • Robinson, Craig D1
  • Webster, Lynda2
  • Martínez-Gómez, Concepción3
  • Burgeot, Thierry4
  • Gubbins, Matthew J2
  • Thain, John E5
  • Vethaak, A Dick6
  • McIntosh, Alistair D2
  • Hylland, Ketil7
  • 1 Marine Scotland Science, Marine Laboratory, 375 Victoria Road, Aberdeen, AB11 9DB, UK. Electronic address: [email protected]
  • 2 Marine Scotland Science, Marine Laboratory, 375 Victoria Road, Aberdeen, AB11 9DB, UK.
  • 3 Instituto Español de Oceanografía (IEO), Oceanographic Centre of Murcia, Varadero 1, P.O. Box 22, 30740 San Pedro del Pinatar, Murcia, Spain. , (Spain)
  • 4 IFREMER, Laboratory of Ecotoxicology, Rue de l'Ile d'Yeu. B.P. 21105, F-44311 Nantes, Cédex 03, France. , (France)
  • 5 Cefas, Weymouth Laboratory, The Nothe, Barrack Road, Weymouth, Dorset, DT4 8UB, UK.
  • 6 Deltares, Marine and Coastal Systems, P.O. Box 177, 2600 MH Delft, The Netherlands; Institute for Environmental Studies, VU University Amsterdam, De Boelelaan 1087, 1081 HV Amsterdam, The Netherlands. , (Netherlands)
  • 7 Department of Biosciences, University of Oslo, P.O. Box 1066, Blindern, N-0316 Oslo, Norway. , (Norway)
Published Article
Marine environmental research
Publication Date
Mar 01, 2017
DOI: 10.1016/j.marenvres.2016.04.005
PMID: 27112302


Understanding the status of contaminants in the marine environment is a requirement of European Union Directives and the Regional Seas Conventions, so that measures to reduce pollution can be identified and their efficacy assessed. The international ICON workshop (Hylland et al., in this issue) was developed in order to test an integrated approach to assessing both contaminant concentrations and their effects. This paper describes and assesses the concentrations of trace metals, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and polychlorinated biphenyls in sediments, mussels, and fish collected from estuarine, coastal and offshore waters from Iceland to the Mediterranean Sea. For organic contaminants, concentrations progressively increased from Iceland, to the offshore North Sea, to the coastal seas, and were highest in estuaries. Metals had a more complex distribution, reflecting local anthropogenic inputs, natural sources and hydrological conditions. Use of internationally recognised assessment criteria indicated that at no site were concentrations of all contaminants at background and that concentrations of some contaminants were of significant concern in all areas, except the central North Sea.

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