Screening study on occurrence of hazardous substances in the eastern Baltic Sea
Pollution involving hazardous substances is considered one of the major problems affecting the state of the Baltic marine environment. Hazardous substances include contaminants such as dioxins, PCBs, tributyltin (TBT) and heavy metals. Once released into the sea, hazardous substances can remain in the marine environment for very long periods and accumulate in the marine food web. Hazardous substances cause adverse effects in ecosystems, including health and reproductive problems in animals, especially top predators. Certain contaminants may be hazardous because of their effects on hormone and immune systems, as well as their toxicity, persistence and bio-accumulating properties. Some fish caught in the Baltic Sea, particularly herring and salmon, contain concentrations of hazardous substances that exceed maximum allowable levels for foodstuffs as defined by EU.
HELCOM has launched a screening study to assess contamination levels of hazardous substances in eastern Baltic Sea. The study will identify the levels of nine hazardous substances or substance groups prioritized by HELCOM (Table 1) in the coastal waters of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Russia. The substances to be studied include e.g. dioxins, TBT, perfluorinated substances and nonylphenols. Together with the national screenings in the western Baltic Sea, which have already been undertaken by Denmark, Finland, Germany and Sweden, the new data will be critical for closing existing information gaps on levels of hazardous substances in the whole Baltic basin.
The screening study has two parts:
Firstly, samples will be taken in eastern Baltic Sea and they will be chemically measured. All substances will be measured, except for dioxins, furans & dioxin-like PCBs. Occurrence of hazardous substances in marine environment will be mainly analysed in fish, but sea water will be surveyed also.
Secondly, already existing information on occurrence and contamination levels of dioxins, furans & dioxin-like PCBs in the eastern Baltic marine environment will be compiled from various sources and evaluated.
The sampling will be done once in August-September 2008. Ten sampling sites will be studied in order to assess levels of contamination in the eastern part of Baltic Sea. All chemical analyses will be performed in one laboratory in order to ensure sub-regional comparability and high quality of results. Both affected and background sites will be studied. Altogether 138 chemical analyses of hazardous substances in fish and 18 analyses in sea water will be made.
The project is funded by the Nordic Council of Ministers and co-ordinated by HELCOM. It is considered an integral part of the implementation of the HELCOM Baltic Sea Action Plan (BSAP) which was adopted by the HELCOM Ministerial Meeting in Krakow in November 2007.
The HELCOM Monitoring and Assessment Group (HELCOM MONAS) has approved the project as a whole and also substances to be screened as well as on the timetable in its annual meeting in Helsinki in October 2007.
|Table 1 Substances or substance groups of specific concern to the Baltic Sea|
|1. Dioxins (PCDD), furans (PCDF) & dioxin-like polychlorinated biphenyls (dilPCB)|
|2a. Tributyltin compounds (TBT)|
|2b. Triphenyltin compounds (TPhT)|
|3a. Pentabromodiphenyl ether (pentaBDE)|
|3b. Octabromodiphenyl ether (octaBDE)|
|3c. Decabromodiphenyl ether (decaBDE)|
|4a. Perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS)|
|4b. Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA)|
|5. Hexabromocyclododecane (HBCDD)|
|6a. Nonylphenols (NP)|
|6b. Nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPE)|
|7a. Octylphenols (OP)|
|7b. Octylphenol ethoxylates (OPE)|
|8a. Short-chain chlorinated paraffins (SCCP or chloroalkanes, C10-13)|
|8b. Medium-chain chlorinated paraffins (MCCP or chloroalkanes, C14-17)|
The screening activity will:
- Promote capacity building in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Russia with regard to screening as a tool to focus the actual monitoring cost-efficiently specifically to the substances of concern
Contribute to development of national programs for hazardous substances under BSAP to be ready by 2010
- Contribute to the thematic assessment on hazardous substances in Baltic Sea region to be ready by 2010, including further development of indicators and necessary actions under BSAP
- Serve both international purposes (HELCOM, European Marine Strategy, EU Water Framework Directive, UNEP Stockholm’s POP Convention, UNECE framework for hazardous substances) as well as national activities to identify and address hazardous substances in the Baltic Sea area and to reach the cessation targets for HELCOM/EU priority hazardous substances by 2020
- Contribute to the review of HELCOM monitoring programme on contaminants
* Kick-off meeting was held on 26th March 2008 in Vilnius, Lithuania
* Sampling strategy (or design) was finalized in March-June 2008
* Laboratory of IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute Ltd was chosen via call for tender procedure in April-June 2008
* Sampling: August - September 2008
* Performing chemical analyses: November 2008 - February 2009
* Preparation of Final report (e.g. results of chemical analysis) by chosen laboratory: by end of May 2009
* Preparation of HELCOM substance-specific fact sheets: June - December 2009
* Final workshop; dissemination of results (e.g. substance-specific HELCOM fact sheets): November 2009
* Final report to Nordic Council of Ministers (refined substance-specific HELCOM Fact Sheets): by end of December 2009
Dissemination of results
Conclusions from the project will be considered during final work shop and HELCOM MONAS (Monitoring and Assessment Group) meetings with representation from all nine HELCOM Contracting Parties. Results will be included in a HELCOM thematic assessment on the hazardous substances in the Baltic marine environment. Results will be also communicated by producing HELCOM Fact Sheets aimed at the science community, policymakers and the public.
More information on this project (e.g. memo of Kick-off meeting) can be found here.
Final project report
Mr. Jukka Mehtonen
Katajanokanlaituri 6 B
tel: +358 (0) 207 412 633