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A risk assessment of the effects of mercury on Baltic Sea, Greater North Sea and North Atlantic wildlife, fish and bivalves

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  • Rune Dietz
  • Jérôme Fort, Universite de La Rochelle
  • ,
  • Christian Sonne
  • Céline Albert, Universite de La Rochelle
  • ,
  • Jan Ove Bustnes, Norwegian Institute for Nature Research, Norway
  • Thomas Kjær Christensen
  • Tomasz Maciej Ciesielski, Norwegian University of Science and Technology
  • ,
  • Jóhannis Danielsen, The Faroese Marine Research Institute
  • ,
  • Sam Dastnai
  • ,
  • Marcel Eens, University of Antwerp, Belgium
  • Kjell Einar Erikstad, Norwegian Institute for Nature Research, Norway
  • Anders Galatius
  • Svend Erik Garbus
  • ,
  • Olivier Gilg, Université de Bourgogne Franche-Comté, France
  • Sveinn Are Hanssen, Norwegian Institute for Nature Research, Norway
  • Björn Helander, Swedish Museum of Natural History
  • ,
  • Morten Helberg, University of Oslo
  • ,
  • Veerle L.B. Jaspers, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Belgium
  • Bjørn Munro Jenssen
  • Jón Einar Jónsson, Northeast Iceland Nature Research Centre, Iceland
  • Kaarina Kauhala, Luke Natural Resources Institute Finland
  • ,
  • Yann Kolbeinsson, Northeast Iceland Nature Research Centre, Iceland
  • Line Anker Kyhn
  • Aili Lage Labansen, Greenland Institute of Natural Resources, Greenland
  • Martin Mørk Larsen
  • Ulf Lindstøm, Institute of Marine Research
  • ,
  • Tone K. Reiertsen, Norwegian Institute for Nature Research, Unknown
  • Frank Farsø Riget
  • Anna Roos, Swedish Museum of Natural History, Denmark
  • Jakob Strand
  • Hallvard Strøm, Norwegian Polar Institute, Norway
  • Signe Sveegaard
  • Jens Søndergaard
  • Jiachen Sun, University of Antwerp, Jinan University, Belgium
  • Jonas Teilmann
  • Ole Roland Therkildsen
  • Thorkell Lindberg Thórarinsson, University of Iceland
  • ,
  • Rune Skjold Tjørnløv
  • ,
  • Simon Wilson, Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP) Secretariat, Norway
  • Igor Eulaers

A wide range of species, including marine mammals, seabirds, birds of prey, fish and bivalves, were investigated for potential population health risks resulting from contemporary (post 2000) mercury (Hg) exposure, using novel risk thresholds based on literature and de novo contamination data. The main geographic focus is on the Baltic Sea, while data from the same species in adjacent waters, such as the Greater North Sea and North Atlantic, were included for comparative purposes. For marine mammals, 23% of the groups, each composing individuals of a specific sex and maturity from the same species in a specific study region, showed Hg-concentrations within the High Risk Category (HRC) and Severe Risk Category (SRC). The corresponding percentages for seabirds, fish and bivalves were 2.7%, 25% and 8.0%, respectively, although fish and bivalves were not represented in the SRC. Juveniles from all species showed to be at no or low risk. In comparison to the same species in the adjacent waters, i.e. the Greater North Sea and the North Atlantic, the estimated risk for Baltic populations is not considerably higher. These findings suggest that over the past few decades the Baltic Sea has improved considerably with respect to presenting Hg exposure to its local species, while it does still carry a legacy of elevated Hg levels resulting from high neighbouring industrial and agricultural activity and slow water turnover regime.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106178
JournalEnvironment International
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021

    Research areas

  • Biological effect, Bird of prey, Hg, Marine mammal, Risk threshold, Seabird

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