Hazardous substances and classification of the environmental conditions in the Baltic Sea and the Kattegat
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Hazardous substances and classification of the environmental conditions in the Baltic Sea and the Kattegat

Comparisons of different Nordic approaches for marine assessments

Hazardous substances, both heavy metals and some man-made organic chemicals, are today widely distributed in the Baltic marine environment. Elevated levels of especially toxic contaminants are of concern, because they can pose a risk to sensitive ecosystems in the Baltic Sea. The objective is to compare and evaluate different classification systems for assessing pollution with hazardous substances in the marine environment presently used by the Nordic countries surrounding the Baltic Sea. The intention is also to propose an operational approach, which can bring the current monitoring strategies more in line with the objectives for environmental assessments in the EU Water Framework Directive. It is argued that an ecotoxicological approach should be developed and it should be based mainly on concentration levels in sediment and biota like mussels and fish and not on concentration levels in seawater. The comparisons and the evaluation of the different classification systems are based on available data for tributyltin (TBT), cadmium (Cd) and polychlorinated bisphenyls (PCBs) as three examples of hazardous substances occurring in the Baltic Sea region.

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Author(s):
Nordic Council of Ministers

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The environmental quality of our seas is generally evaluated on the basis of absence or presence of threats, which can affect the ecosystem structure and function, with the objective to achieve environmental conditions favouring the conservation of biodiversity. Contaminants are generally together with eutrophication-related problems and physical disturbance/exploitation recognised as the most important threats in assessments and evaluations of the environmental conditions in the marine environment.