Assessment Protocol

Assessment units are evaluated using the primary substance benzo(a)pyrene concentration measured in crustaceans. If no evaluation is possible using the primary substance, then the secondary substances can be used to develop an evaluation for an assessment unit.

Sediment measurements were normalized to 5% total organic content (TOC) before being evaluated against the threshold value.


Assessment methodology for contaminants in biota, sediment and water

The assessment protocol is structured in three main parts, 1) changes in log concentrations over time are modelled, 2) check for compliance against threshold value and evidence for temporal change of contaminant concentration per station and 3) a spatial aggregation of status per assessment unit.

It should be noted that the assessment protocol makes the assumption that monitoring data stems from the same monitoring stations during consecutive years. The stations used by the protocol are defined in the ICES Station Dictionary. Stations with similar station name are grouped together, but it is also possible to define a group of stations with different names to be defined as the same station in the Station Dictionary. Usually a station is defined in the Station Dictionary with coordinates and a valid box around these coordinates, but coordinates outside of the box will only give a warning when reporting the data, and are not used in the actual data extraction.

All initial data is handled in a highly precautionary manner to further ensure that the risk of false positives is minimalised. For all initial data the 95% confidence limit on the mean concentration, based on the uncertainty seen in longer time series throughout the HELCOM area, is used.  Applying a precautionary approach, the 90% quantile (psi value, Ψ ) of the uncertainty estimates in the longer time series from the entire HELCOM region are used. The same approach is used for time series with three or more years of data, but which are dominated by less-than values (i.e. no parametric model can be fitted). The mean concentration in the last monitoring year (meanLY) is obtained by: restricting the time series to the period 2011-2016 (the last six monitoring years), calculating the median log concentration in each year (treating 'less-than' values as if they were above the limit of detection), calculating the mean of the median log concentrations, and then back-transforming (by exponentiating) to the concentration scale. The upper one-sided 95% confidence limit (clLY) is then given by: exp(meanLY + qnorm(0.95) * Ψ / sqrt(n)), where n is the number of years with data in the period 2011-2016 (HELCOM 2018).


Assessment units

The core indicator evaluation is carried out on the HELCOM assessment unit scale 4, including 17 open sea assessment units delimitated by the so called 1 nautical mile boundary from the baseline, and with the coastal areas split into WFD waterbodies or –types. The assessment units are defined in the HELCOM Monitoring and Assessment Strategy Annex 4.