Selected Results - Retrospective monitoring
A selection of commented investigation results based on sampling data from the Environmental Specimen Bank.
Alkylphenols and alkylphenol ethoxylates: voluntary measures of industry result in a decrease of environmental burdens
Alkylphenol ethoxylates (APEO) are so called non-ionic detergents. They are widely used in industry and technology. Some of their precursors and degradation products are persistent, bioaccumulative, endocrine disruptive, and highly toxic to aquatic organisms.<br /> In 1986 and 1992, the German industry voluntarily renounced the use of APEO in cleansing agents. Since then, contamination of bream with APEO and their degradation products in German rivers declined. Contamination of blue mussels from the North and Baltic Sea was generally low and decreased further between 1986 and 2001.
Hexabromocyclododecane in herring gull eggs: Declining concentrations since the beginning of the 2000s
In eggs of herring gulls from the North Sea and the Baltic Sea only alpha-HBCD was detected in all samples whereas the concentrations of the two other diastereomers beta and gamma of technical HBCD were near or below the limit of quantification. At all three sampling sites HBCD levels were highest in 2000 and declined significantly thereafter.
Organotin compounds are used as biocides, plastics additives and catalysers. Aquatic ecosystems are affected mainly by tributyltin (TBT) and triphenyltin (TPT) compounds in antifouling paints. Both compounds are highly toxic and endocrine disruptive. After the partial ban of TBT in antifoulants in 1989 and and the total EU ban of organotin compounds for this application in 2003, TBT and TPT contamination of bream in German rivers and of blue mussel and eelpout from the North and Baltic Sea declined. Levels of the respective degradation products (i.e. the di- and mono-substituted compounds) were mostly low, although these compounds are partly used in industry for other purposes, e.g. as catalysts.
Phthalates are primarily used as plasticisers for soft PVC. The chemical industry in Western Europe produces around one million tons of phthalates annually. More than 90% go into the production of soft PVC. Phthalates do not form strong chemical bonds in soft PVC. They evaporate from products, such as flooring, wallpaper, or food packaging. Human Biomonitoring demonstrated that everybody in industrialised countries is exposed to phthalates or their degradation products. In two retrospective studies of the Environmental Specimen Bank metabolites of phthalates were detectable in nearly all urine samples indicating a ubiquitous exposure of the German population over the complete study period.
Synthetic musk compounds: decreasing concentrations of artificial fragrances mirror changing usage patterns
Polycyclic musk compounds are synthetic fragrances that are widely used in personal care products, washing- and cleansing agents, papers and textiles. They enter the environment via waste water and sewage sludge. Some musk compounds are toxic to aquatic biota, bioaccumulative and endorcrine disruptive. Among the polycyclic musk compounds detected in bream from German rivers and blue mussels from the North and Baltic Sea, HHCB (trade name: Galaxolide) and AHTN (trade name: Tonalide) dominated. During the study period (1986-2003) HHCB and AHTN contamination was significantly higher in bream than in mussels. A general decrease in contamination is noticeable since the mid 1990s.
Analysis of breams from different German rivers revealed highest methyl-triclosan burdens in bream from the rivers Saale, Saar and Rhine.