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What can we learn from monitoring PCBs in the European eel? A Belgian experience
Belpaire, C.; Geeraerts, C.; Roosens, L.; Neels, H.; Covaci, A. (2011). What can we learn from monitoring PCBs in the European eel? A Belgian experience. Environ. Int. 37(2): 354-364.
In: Environment International. Pergamon: New York. ISSN 0160-4120, more
Peer reviewed article  

Available in Authors 

    Eels; Monitoring
Author keywords
    European eel; PCBs; Bioaccumulation; Human intake; Monitoring network; Flanders

Authors  Top 

    Between 2000 and 2007 pooled muscle tissue samples of the European eel (Anguilla anguilla) from 48 sites in Flanders (Belgium) were analysed for 30 polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) congeners. There was a large variation between individual sites (range 11–7752 ng/g wet weight (ww) for the sum of the ICES 7 PCBs), eels from the River Meuse basin (mean 1545 ng/g ww) being considerably more polluted than those from the River Scheldt (615) and IJzer (61) basins. Overall, PCB 153, PCB 138 and PCB 180 were the most prominent congeners, however PCB patterns varied between the monitored locations. Analysis of the weight percentage of congeners demonstrates obvious differences in PCB composition between sites, indicating differential sources of pollution. Due to the variation in patterns, atmospheric fallout does not seem to be the main source of the PCB spread, but instead both local and upstream sources linked to industrial activities seem to be the main cause for PCB presence in Flanders. Considering the levels of the Sum 7 PCBs, eels are not compliant with the Belgian legal limits for consumption (75 ng/g ww) in 71% of the sites. Regular consumption of eels from polluted sites leads to a considerable excess of the WHO Acceptable Daily Intake value. Consumption of wild eels should by all means be prevented, as it presents risks for human health, especially for local anglers consuming their catch.

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