Since 2012, polychlorinated biphenyl concentrations in biota are broadly similar and generally achieve the target described in the UK Marine Strategy Part One (HM Government, 2012). 83% of the assessments in the Greater North Sea and 74% of assessments in the Celtic Sea have met the associated UK targets. However, the most toxic dioxin-like compound (CB118) still exceeds target threshold levels in some areas.

Background

UK target on concentration of contaminants (polychlorinated biphenyl)

This indicator is used to assess progress against the target set out in the UK Marine Strategy Part One (HM Government, 2012), which requires that concentrations of the substances identified within relevant legislation and international obligations are below the levels at which adverse effects are likely to occur. The polychlorinated biphenyls considered are CB28, CB52, CB101, CB118, CB138, CB153 and CB180.

Key pressures and impacts

In the UK Initial Assessment (HM Government, 2012) the key pressures associated with this indicator were riverine and direct inputs of legacy polychlorinated biphenyls arising from point and diffuse sources, atmospheric deposition and acute events that have entered marine sediments and can then accumulate in fish and shellfish and top predators (biota). These are still relevant.

Measures taken to address the impacts

There is a robust UK legislative framework in place for controlling and reducing pollution from the main sources of contaminants (energy production, transport, urban and industrial uses), including appropriate consenting regimes and River Basin Management Plans described in the UK Marine Strategy Part Three (HM Government, 2015). However, many of the polychlorinated biphenyls in marine sediments entered the sea before many of the controls were put in place and, due to their persistence, are still present. Removing these sediments from the sea is not a practicable option.

Monitoring, assessment and regional co-operation

Areas that have been assessed

Status and trends assessments were conducted for the UK portion of the Greater North Sea and Celtic Seas Marine Strategy Framework Directive (European Commission, 2008a) sub-regions, and, where possible, at the smaller scale of the UK biogeographic marine regions set out in Charting Progress 2 (UKMMAS, 2010).

Monitoring and assessment methods

Risk-based monitoring and assessment of the status and trends of polychlorinated biphenyl concentrations in biota was conducted within the annual UK Clean Seas Environmental Monitoring Programme using methods and principles set out in the OSPAR Coordinated Environmental Monitoring Programme. The assessment analysed the results of individual monitoring stations and also synthesised the result to assess trends on the biogeographic regional level.

Assessment thresholds

Environmental Assessment Criteria were derived by OSPAR for the assessment of polychlorinated biphenyl concentrations in biota. Concentrations below the Environmental Assessment Criteria rarely cause any chronic effects in marine organisms.

OSPAR also has a long term ultimate objective to achieve concentrations of close to zero for man-made substances in the marine environment, and whilst not a target described in the UK Marine Strategy Part One (HM Government, 2012), the status and trend results were used to examine progress towards this objective.

Regional co-operation

The UK has been a key player in the development, monitoring and assessment of the OSPAR “polychlorinated biphenyls in biota” common indicator. The UK results have been used in the OSPAR Intermediate Assessment (OSPAR Commission, 2017). 

Further information

Polychlorinated biphenyls are very stable, which means that they not biodegrade in the environment and humans and animals cannot break them down. Some polychlorinated biphenyls can vaporise and be easily redistributed by air. Polychlorinated biphenyls accumulate in marine animals, such as dab (Figure 1), with greater concentrations found higher up the food chain.

Figure1. The common dab (Limanda limanda), a key species used in contaminant monitoring (Source: Cefas).

Polychlorinated biphenyl compounds are extremely toxic to animals and humans, causing reproductive and developmental problems, damage to the immune system, interference with hormones and cause cancer. Seven specific compounds (CB28, CB52, CB101, CB118, CB138, CB153 and CB180) were recommended for monitoring by the European Union Community Bureau of Reference (European Commission, 2001). These were selected as indicators of wider polychlorinated biphenyl contamination due to their relatively high concentrations and toxic effects. The monitoring data are used to investigate trends in polychlorinated biphenyl concentrations and to compare concentrations against two sets of OSPAR assessment criteria: Background Assessment Concentrations and the Environmental Assessment Criteria. The Environmental Assessment Criteria for polychlorinated biphenyls in biota is derived from the Environmental Assessment Criteria for sediment and is called the EACpassive. The values in sediment were set so that concentrations below the Environmental Assessment Criteria should not cause chronic effects in sensitive marine species and present no significant risk to the environment. Environmental Assessment Criteria are analogous to the Environmental Quality Standards used to assess contaminant concentrations in water (European Commission, 2008b), for example under the Water Framework Directive (European Commission, 2010). Background Assessment Concentrations are used to assess whether concentrations are near background values for naturally occurring substances and close to zero for man-made substances, the ultimate aim of the OSPAR Hazardous Substances Strategy.

Polychlorinated biphenyls (Figure 2) are industrial compounds with multiple industrial and commercial uses. It has been estimated that globally 1.3 million tonnes of polychlorinated biphenyl compounds have been produced (Breivik and others, 2007). Polychlorinated biphenyls have been used as coolants and lubricants in transformers, capacitors, and other electrical equipment. They have also been used as plasticisers and sealing agents in products such as rubber and especially in polyvinyl chloride plastics used to coat electrical wiring, adhesives, paints and inks. Although, the usage of polychlorinated biphenyls was generally banned over 30 years ago, they still exist in old electrical equipment and environmental media to which humans can be exposed. Polychlorinated biphenyls are expected to be present in electronic waste streams from which they can leach into the environment (Menad and others 1998). Human populations are exposed mainly via food, mostly from contaminated animal fats. Indoor air can also contribute to human exposure. Worldwide monitoring programs have shown that polychlorinated biphenyls are present in most samples of human milk (Pietrzak-Fiecko and others, 2005).

Figure 2. Polychlorinated biphenyls. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Polychlorinated biphenyls do not burn easily, are good insulators and very resistant (Bergman and others, 2012). These properties contribute greatly to polychlorinated biphenyls having become environmental contaminants which are regulated by the Stockholm Convention of Persistent Organic Pollutants adopted to European Union legislation in Regulation (EC) No 850/2004 (European Commission, 2004). The chemical inertness and heat stability properties that make polychlorinated biphenyls desirable for industry also protect them from destruction when the products in which they are used are discarded. These same properties enable residues to persist in the environment for long periods of time and to be transported worldwide when contaminated particulate matter travels through waters, precipitation, wind, and other physical forces (Jaward and others, 2004; Eckhardt and others, 2007; Gioia and others, 2008).

All polychlorinated biphenyls can induce formation of reactive oxygen species, genotoxic effects, immune suppression, an inflammatory response, and endocrine effects to various extents and through different pathways (Sepulveda and others, 2010; Lauby-Secretan and others, 2013). Of the 209 polychlorinated biphenyl congeners, the most toxic are the so-called ‘dioxin-like’ polychlorinated biphenyls: the four non-ortho (CB77, 81, 126 and 169) and eight mono-ortho (CB105, 114, 118, 123, 156, 157, 167 and 189). Only CB118 is monitored.

Due to their persistence, potential to bioaccumulate and toxicity they have been included on the OSPAR List of Chemicals for Priority Action (OSPAR Commission, 2004). OSPAR Commission (2004) presented a monitoring strategy for which contracting parties should continue to measure polychlorinated biphenyls under the OSPAR Co-ordinated Environmental Monitoring Programme on a mandatory basis in biota (fish and mussels) and sediments for temporal trends and spatial distribution, covering polychlorinated biphenyl congeners CB28, CB52, CB101, CB118, CB138, CB153 and CB180. Marine sediments, in particular those with a high organic carbon content, may accumulate hydrophobic compounds, like polychlorinated biphenyls, to considerably higher levels than those of the surrounding waters. The sampling strategy is defined by the purpose of the monitoring programme and the natural conditions of the region to be monitored. Typically sampling approaches include fixed-station sampling, stratified random sampling, or stratified fixed sampling. Muddy sediments, such as those containing a high proportion of fine material, are preferable for organic contaminant monitoring, although sieving of sediments may be an alternative (OSPAR Commission, 2002). Jepson and others (2016) found Europe's cetaceans to have levels of polychlorinated biphenyls that are among the highest found in the oceans, showing that despite the ban and decline in marine sediments and certain fish, polychlorinated biphenyls still persist at high levels in European cetaceans.

Assessment method

Assessment methodology for polychlorinated biphenyls in biota

This 2016 assessment of data from the Clean Seas Environmental Monitoring Programme describes the trends and status of contaminant concentrations in biota at monitoring stations around the UK. Assessments are made for many time series, each of a single contaminant in a single species at a single monitoring station. This section describes how the results of the individual time series are synthesised to assess status and trends at the biogeographic regional level. Specifically, it considers polychlorinated biphenyl concentrations in biota. The congeners assessed here were (with chemical abstracts service numbers provided in brackets): CB28 (CAS Nr. 7012-37-5), CB52 (CAS Nr. 35693-99-3), CB10 (CAS Nr. 37680-73-2), CB118 (CAS Nr. 31508-00-6), CB138 (CAS Nr. 35065-28-2), CB153 (CAS Nr. 35065-27-1) and CB180 (CAS Nr. 35065-29-3).

The regional assessment only considers coastal and offshore sampling stations and excludes estuarine stations. The results are, therefore, based on the monitoring data collected within the waters assessed under the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (European Commission, 2008a) and are used as part of the UK’s assessment of Contaminants.

The monitoring stations where there are suitable data are shown in Figure 3, with the purple circles showing stations where there is trend and status information for at least one polychlorinated biphenyl compound, and the blue circles showing stations where there is only status information. The areas delineated by the thinner black lines are the biogeographic regions; those delineated by the thicker black lines are the Marine Strategy Framework Directive sub-regions. The number of time series in each biogeographic region is given in Tables 1 and 2.

Figure 3. Trend and status (purple circles) and status only (blue circles) monitoring stations used to assess polychlorinated biphenyls concentrations in biota.

Table 1. Number of stations used in the UK polychlorinated biphenyls in biota trend assessment, by Marine Strategy Framework Directive sub-region.

Sub-region

Biogeographic region

CB28

CB52

CB101

CB118

CB138

CB153

CB180

Total

Greater North Sea

Northern North Sea

5

6

12

14

16

16

11

80

Southern North Sea

1

3

8

8

8

8

6

42

E Channel

0

2

2

2

2

2

2

12

total

6

11

22

24

26

26

19

134

Celtic Seas

Scottish Continental Shelf

0

0

0

1

0

2

0

3

Minches & W Scotland

2

3

4

4

4

5

2

24

Irish Sea

15

15

26

29

26

29

18

158

W Channel & Celtic Sea

0

0

2

2

2

2

2

10

total

17

18

32

36

32

38

22

195

Table 2. Number of stations used in the UK polychlorinated biphenyls in biota trend assessment, by Marine Strategy Framework Directive sub-region.

Sub-region

Biogeographic region

CB28

CB52

CB101

CB118

CB138

CB153

CB180

Total

Greater North Sea

 

 

 

Northern North Sea

20

16

22

21

20

24

17

140

Southern North Sea

9

8

9

9

9

9

9

62

E Channel

2

2

2

2

2

2

2

14

total

31

26

33

32

31

35

28

216

Celtic Seas

 

 

 

 

Scottish Continental Shelf

5

2

7

7

3

8

2

34

Minches & W Scotland

8

7

16

19

11

18

7

86

Irish Sea

29

30

32

34

32

32

29

218

W Channel & Celtic Sea

2

2

2

2

2

2

2

14

total

44

41

57

62

48

60

40

352

Areas that have been assessed

Status and trends assessments were conducted for the UK-portion of the Greater North Sea and Celtic Seas Marine Strategy Framework Directive sub-regions, and at the smaller scale of the 8 UK biogeographic marine regions set out in Charting Progress 2 (UKMMAS, 2010).

Monitoring and assessment methods

Polychlorinated biphenyls were monitored in mussels and fish. Samples were taken in annual monitoring surveys based on the sampling frequencies specified in the OSPAR Joint Assessment and Monitoring Programme guideline. Sampling and chemical analysis methodologies met the relevant OSPAR requirements. Statistical assessments of status and trends were also based on OSPAR methodologies.

An individual time series of polychlorinated biphenyls concentrations is assessed for status if:

  • there is at least one year with data in the period 2010 to 2015
  • there are at least three years of data over the whole time-series
  • a parametric model can be fitted to the data and used to estimate the mean concentration in the final monitoring year (or, occasionally, if a non-parametric test of status is applied).

The time series is also assessed for trends if, in addition:

  • there are at least five years of data over the whole time-series
  • a parametric model can be fitted to the data and used to estimate the trend in mean concentrations.

Information on how the individual time series are assessed for status and trends is available from the British Oceanographic Data Centre.

For the regional assessment, the results from the individual time series are combined and a summary measure of status or trend is obtained from each time series. These are then modelled, using a linear mixed model, to estimate the mean status, or the mean trend in each biogeographic region. Only biogeographic regions with at least 3 monitoring stations with good geographic spread are considered in the regional assessment. Full details of the methodology is available from the British Oceanographic Data Centre.

Assessment thresholds

Two assessment criteria are used to assess polychlorinated biphenyl concentrations in biota (Table 3):

  1. Background Assessment Concentrations were developed by OSPAR for testing whether concentrations are close to zero for man-made substances. Mean concentrations significantly below the Background Assessment Concentrations are said to close to zero.
  2. Environmental Assessment Criteria were developed by OSPAR and the ICES for assessing the ecological significance of sediment and biota concentrations. Some Environmental Assessment Criteria values were specifically compiled for the assessment of monitoring data on hazardous substances from the Co-ordinated Environmental Monitoring Programme contributing to OSPAR’s Quality Status Report 2010 (OSPAR Commission, 2010). The Environmental Assessment Criteria do not represent target values or legal standards under the OSPAR Convention and should not be used as such. The values were set so that hazardous substance concentrations in sediment and biota below the Environmental Assessment Criteria should not cause chronic effects in sensitive marine species, including the most sensitive species, nor should concentrations present an unacceptable risk to the environment and its living resources. However, the risk of secondary poisoning is not always considered. Environmental Assessment Criteria continue to be developed for use in data assessments.

Polychlorinated biphenyl concentrations are dependent on the lipid content of individual species, with conversion factors given in Table 4.

Table 3. Background Assessment Concentrations and Environmental Assessment Criteria for polychlorinated biphenyls in sediment. Concentrations are expressed as μg kg-1 dw (dry weight) for mussels and oysters and as μg kg-1 ww (wet weight) for fish; Environmental Assessment Criteria are expressed as μg kg-1 lw (lipid weight). Environmental Assessment Criteria are based on partitioning theory and are sometimes known as EACpassive.

 

Background Assessment Concentrations

Environmental Assessment Criteria

 

mussels and oysters (μg kg-1 dw)

Fish (μg kg-1 ww)

all biota (μg kg-1 lw)

CB28

0.75

0.10

 67

CB52

0.75

0.08

108

CB101

0.70

0.08

121

CB105

0.75

0.08

 

CB118

0.60

0.10

25

CB138

0.60

0.09

317

CB153

0.60

0.10

1585

CB156

0.60

0.08

 

CB180

0.60

0.11

469

Table 4. Conversion factors for converting the basis of assessment concentrations in biota.

Species

Common name

% lipid weight in muscle

% lipid weight in liver

% dry weight in soft body

Limanda limanda

common dab

 

16

 

Platichthys flesus

flounder

 

13

 

Pleuronectes platessa

plaice

 

10

 

Crassostrea gigas

Pacific oyster

 

 

19

Mytilus edulis

blue mussel

 

 

17

Results

Findings in the UK Initial Assessment in 2012

A number of samples exceeded the thresholds. These were local in nature and close to the sources, particularly in industrialised estuaries and coasts (HM Government, 2012).

Latest findings

Of the 329 trend assessments carried out in the Celtic Seas and Greater North Sea for polychlorinated biphenyls, 5 (2%) showed a significant upward trend, while 96 (29%) showed a significant downward trend. Of the 568 status assessments carried out, 442 (78%) were below the Environmental Assessment Criteria.

Status assessment

The mean concentration across the monitoring stations used were below the Environmental Assessment Criteria values for polychlorinated biphenyls in the Greater North Sea, the Celtic Seas and the sampled 5 biogeographic regions. In the Greater North Sea, 83% of the 216 status assessments were below the Environmental Assessment Criteria and met the UK threshold target. In the Celtic Seas, 74% of the 352 assessments were below the Environmental Assessment Criteria and met the UK threshold target. Figure 4 gives an overview of the different polychlorinated biphenyl congeners assessments failing the Environmental Assessment Criteria in the different biogeographic regions. CB118 was the only one which failed the Environmental Assessment Criteria in 4 out of 5 sampled biogeographic regions.

Figure 4. Status assessment; average polychlorinated biphenyl concentration in biota in each biogeographic region, relative to Environmental Assessment Criteria (EAC) by compound (with 95% confidence limits). A value of 1 indicates the average concentration is equal to the Environmental Assessment Criteria. Blue: statistically significantly below the Background Assessment Concentration; green: statistically significantly below the Environmental Assessment Criteria: red: the estimate of the mean concentration is not significantly below the Environmental Assessment Criteria.

Trend assessment

In the Greater North Sea, out of the 134 trend assessments, 2% show an upward trend, 67% of the assessments show no trend and 31% show a downward trend. In the Celtic Seas, out of the 195 trend assessments, 1% show an upward trend, 71% show no trend and 2% show a downward trend. All 4 sampled biogeographic regions showed significant downward trends (Figure 5), taking the mean of all polychlorinated biphenyl congeners into consideration.

Figure 5. Trend assessment; average annual trends in polychlorinated biphenyl concentrations in biota by biogeographic region (with 95% confidence limits). Upward trend (upwards triangle), downward trends (downwards triangle), no change (circle).

Conclusions

Since the UK Initial Assessment (HM Government, 2012) concentrations of polychlorinated biphenyls in biota have not changed overall for either the Greater North Sea or the Celtic Seas. A very high percentage of stations met the UK target for this indicator. The exception is one of the most toxic polychlorinated biphenyls (CB118), which is above the Environmental Assessment Criteria in 4 of the 5 assessed Charting Progress 2 (UKMMAS, 2010) regions, and therefore adverse effects on marine organisms may still be possible in these areas. Due to past industrial uses and the persistence of polychlorinated biphenyls it will take several more decades before concentrations in biota will disappear.

Knowledge gaps

There is a lack of monitoring data, particularly in the Southern North Sea, Channel and South West of England. Filling these data gaps would provide a broader picture of compliance with the target.

Further research is required to define diffuse inputs from terrestrial sources. Applying a modelling approach could improve understanding of atmospheric transport from remaining sources.

References

Bergman A, Rydén A, Law RJ, de Boer J, Covaci A, AlaeeM, Birnbaum L, PetreasM, RoseM, Sakai S, den Eede NV, van der Veen I (2012) ‘A novel abbreviation standard for organobromine, organochlorine, and organophosphorus flame retardants and some characteristics of the chemicals’ Environment International 49: 57–82 (viewed on 29 November 2018)

Breivik, K., Sweetman, A., Pacyna, J. M. and Jones, K. C. (2007) ‘Towards a global historical emission inventory for selected PCB congeners—A mass balance approach 3. An Update’ Science of the Total Environment, 377: 296–307 (viewed on 29 November 2018)

Eckhardt S, Breivik K, Mano S, Stohl A (2007) ‘Record high peaks in PCB concentrations in the Arctic atmosphere due to long-range transport of biomass burning emissions’ Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics 7: 4527–4536 (viewed on 29 November 2018)

European Commission (2000) ‘Directive 2000/60/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a framework for the Community action in the field of water policy’ Official Journal of the European Union L 327, 22.12.2000, pages 1–73 (viewed on 16 November 2018)

European Commission (2001) ‘Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament and the Economic and Social Committee Community - Strategy for Dioxins, Furans and Polychlorinated Biphenyls /* COM/2001/0593 final */’ Official Journal of the European Union C 322 , 17/11/2001 Pages 0002 - 0018 (viewed on 16 November 2018)

European Commission (2004) ‘Regulation (EC) No 850/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2004 on persistent organic pollutants and amending Directive 79/117/EEC’ Official Journal of the European Union L158/7, pages 7 – 47 (viewed on 28 November 2018)

European Commission (2008a) ‘Directive 2008/56/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 June 2008 establishing a framework for community action in the field of marine environmental policy (Marine Strategy Framework Directive)’ Official Journal of the European Union L 164, 25.6.2008, pages 19-40 (viewed on 16 November 2018)

European Commission (2008b) ‘Directive 2008/105/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 December 2008 on environmental quality standards in the field of water policy, amending and subsequently repealing Council Directives 82/176/EEC, 83/513/EEC, 84/156/EEC, 84/491/EEC, 86/280/EEC and amending Directive 2000/60/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council’ (viewed on 29 November 2018)

Gioia R, Nizzetto L, Lohmann R, Dachs J, Jones KC (2008) ‘Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in air and seawater of the Atlantic Ocean: sources, trends and processes’ Environmental Science and Technology 42: 1416–1422 (viewed on 29 November 2018)

HM Government (2012) ‘Marine Strategy Part One: UK Initial Assessment and Good Environmental Status’ (viewed on 16 November 2018)

HM Government (2015) ‘Marine Strategy Part Three: UK Programme of Measures’ December 2015 (viewed on 16 November 2018)

Jaward FM, Barber JL, Booij K, Dachs J, Lohmann R, Jones KC (2004) ‘Evidence for dynamic air-water coupling and cycling of persistent organic pollutants over open Atlantic Ocean’ Environmental Science and Technology 38: 2617–2625 (viewed on 29 November 2018)

Jepson PD, Deaville R, Barber JL, Aguilar À, Borrell A, Murphy S, Barry J, Brownlow A, Barnett J, Berrow S, Cunningham AA, Davison NJ, ten Doeschate M, Esteban R, Ferreira M, Foote AD, Genov T, Giménez J, Loveridge J, Llavona Á, Martin V, Maxwell D, Papachlimitzou A, Penrose R, Perkins M.W, Smith B, de Stephanis R, Tregenza N, Verborgh P, Fernandez A, Law RJ (2016) ‘PCB pollution continues to impact populations of orcas and other dolphins in European waters’ Scientific Reports, 6: 18573 (viewed on 29 November 2018)

Lauby-Secretan B, Loomis D, Grosse Y, El Ghissassi F, Bouvard V, Benbrahim-Tallaa L, Guha N, Baan R, Mattock H, Straif K (2013) ‘Carcinogenicity of polychlorinated biphenyls and polybrominated biphenyls’ The Lancet: Oncology 14(4): 287–288 (viewed on 29 November 2018)

Menad N, Björkman B, Allain EG (1998) ‘Combustion of plastics contained in electric and electronic scrap’ Resources, Conservation and Recycling 24:65–85 (viewed on 29 November 2018)

OSPAR Commission (2002) ‘CEMP Guidelines for Monitoring Contaminants in Sediments’ Ospar Agreement 2002-16 (viewed on 29 November 2018)

OSPAR Commission (2004) ‘Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)’ Hazardous Substances Series. Originally published 2001, updated 2004 (viewed on 29 November 2018)

OSPAR Commission (2010) ‘The Quality Status Report 2010 Publication number 497/2010 (viewed on 27 November 2018)

OSPAR Commission (2014), ‘OSPAR Joint Assessment and Monitoring Programme (JAMP) 2014 – 2021’ Ospar Agreement 2014-02 (viewed on 27 November 2018)

OSPAR Commission (2017) ‘Intermediate Assessment 2017’ (viewed on 16 November 2018)

Pietrzak-Fiecko R, Smoczynska K, Smoczynski SS (2005) ‘Polychlorinated biphenyls in human milk, UHT cow's milk, and infant formulas’ Polish Journal of Environmental Studies 14(2): 237–241 (viewed on 29 November 2018)

Sepulveda A, Schluep M, Renaud FG, Streicher M, Kuehr R, Hageluken C, Gerecke AC (2010) ‘A review of the environmental fate and effects of hazardous substances released from electrical and electronic equipments during recycling: examples from China and India’ Environmental Impact Assessment Review 30(1): 28-41 (viewed on 29 November 2018)

UKMMAS (2010) 'Charting Progress 2: An assessment of the state of the UK seas' Published by Defra on behalf of the UK Marine Monitoring and Assessment Strategy community (viewed on 4 January 2019)

Acknowledgements

Assessment metadata
Assessment TypeUK Marine Strategy Framework Directive Indicator Assessment
 

D8

 

D8.1 Concentration of Contaminants

 

Marine Strategy Part One

Point of contact emailmarinestrategy@defra.gov.uk
Metadata dateMonday, October 1, 2018
TitleContaminant and biological effect data to support MSFD Descriptor 8 1999-2015 by CSEMP Region
Resource abstract

The results of the individual time series at coastal and offshore stations were synthesised to assess status and trends at the biogeographic regional level and formed the basis of eleven of the indicator assessments that comprised the UK's 2018 MSFD assessment of Descriptor 8.

Linkage

In addition to links provided in ‘References’ section above:

OSPAR Commission (2005) ‘2005 Assessment of data collected under the Co-ordinated Environmental Monitoring Programme (CEMP)’ Publication Number 235 (viewed on 10 January 2019)

OSPAR Commission (2006) ‘2005/2006 CEMP Assessment: Trends and concentrations of selected hazardous substances in the marine environment’ Publication Number 288 (viewed on 10 January 2019)

OSPAR Commission (2007) ‘2006/2007 CEMP Assessment: Trends and concentrations of selected hazardous substances in the marine environment’ Publication Number 330 (viewed on 10 January 2019)

OSPAR Commission (2008) ‘CEMP Assessment Manual: Co-ordinated Environmental Monitoring Programme Assessment Manual for contaminants in sediment and biota’ Publication Number 379 (viewed on 10 January 2019)

OSPAR Commission (2009) ‘CEMP assessment report: 2008/2009 Assessment of trends and concentrations of selected hazardous substances in sediments and biota’ Publication Number 390 (viewed on 10 January 2019)

OSPAR Commission (2009) ‘Agreement on CEMP Assessment Criteria for the QSR 2010' Agreement 2009-2 (viewed on 10 January 2019)

OSPAR Commission (2016) 'OSPAR Coordinated Environmental Monitoring Programme’ Agreement 2016-1 (viewed on 10 January 2019)

Conditions applying to access and use

© Crown copyright, licenced under the Open Government Licence (OGL).

Assessment Lineage

The 2016 assessment of the UK's Clean Seas Environment Monitoring Programme described the status and trends of contaminant concentrations and biological effects measurements in biota and sediment at monitoring stations in waters around the UK. Assessments were made for a large number of time series, typically each of a single contaminant in a single species (for biota) at a single monitoring station. The results of the individual time series at coastal and offshore stations were synthesised to assess status and trends at the biogeographic regional level and formed the basis of this indicator.

Data were submitted to the MERMAN database from relevant Competent Monitoring Authorities. A series of templates were populated by submitting officers and submitted to the database which has in-built data restrictions and a data filter to ensure high quality, accurate 

data are submitted. The data filter has formulae in-built which use Accredited Quality Control information from known standards, limits, standard deviations and/or inter laboratory calibration exercises to calculate a score. Only data that passed a threshold agreed with the national advisory bodies were used for assessments.

The data for 1999 - 2015 were extracted from MERMAN. Further data checks were made and records with obvious errors were deleted or corrected. The data were standardised to agreed units and bases. 

The data were grouped into time series of a single contaminant in a single species at a single monitoring station. Time series with no data for the period 2010 - 2015 were excluded. The individual time series were assessed for both trends and status. The methods behind the assessments and the individual time series results are available from the British Oceanographic Data Centre.

The results of the individual time series at coastal and offshore stations were then synthesised to assess status and trends at the biogeographic regional level.  The methods and results are available from the British Oceanographic Data Centre.

Dataset metadata

https://portal.medin.org.uk/portal/start.php#details?tpc=012_Marine_Scotland_FishDAC_12111

Dataset DOI

http://dx.doi.org/10.7489/12111-1

The Metadata are “data about the content, quality, condition, and other characteristics of data” (FGDC Content Standard for Digital Geospatial Metadata Workbook, Ver 2.0, May 1, 2000).

Metadata definitions

Assessment Lineage - description of data sets and method used to obtain the results of the assessment

Dataset – The datasets included in the assessment should be accessible, and reflect the exact copies or versions of the data used in the assessment. This means that if extracts from existing data were modified, filtered, or otherwise altered, then the modified data should be separately accessible, and described by metadata (acknowledging the originators of the raw data).

Dataset metadata – information on the data sources and characteristics of data sets used in the assessment (MEDIN and INSPIRE compliance).

Digital Object Identifier (DOI) – a persistent identifier to provide a link to a dataset (or other resource) on digital networks. Please note that persistent identifiers can be created/minted, even if a dataset is not directly available online.

Indicator assessment metadata – data and information about the content, quality, condition, and other characteristics of an indicator assessment.

MEDIN discovery metadata - a list of standardized information that accompanies a marine dataset and allows other people to find out what the dataset contains, where it was collected and how they can get hold of it.

Recommended reference for this indicator assessment

Thomas Maes1, Lynda Webster2, E. E. Manuel Nicolaus1 and Rob Fryer2 2018. Trends and status of polychlorinated biphenyls in UK biota. UK Marine Online Assessment Tool, available at: https://moat.cefas.co.uk/pressures-from-human-activities/contaminants/pcbs-in-biota/

1Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science

2Marine Scotland