Long-Term Trends for Blue Mussels from the German Environmental Specimen Bank Show First Evidence of Munition Contaminants Uptake

2023, Fachzeitschriften

Strehse, Jennifer S.; Bünning, Tobias H.; Koschorreck, Jan; Künitzer, Anita; Maser, Edmund
Toxics (2023); online: 7. April 2023


Submerged munitions are present in marine waters across the globe. They contain energetic compounds (ECs), such as TNT and metabolites thereof, which are considered carcinogenic, exhibit toxic effects in marine organisms, and may affect human health.

The aim of this study was to investigate the occurrence of ECs and their trends in blue mussels from the annual collections of the German Environmental Specimen Bank sampled over the last 30 years at three different locations along the coastline of the Baltic and North Sea. Samples were analyzed by GC-MS/MS for 1,3-dinitrobenzene (1,3-DNB), 2,4-dinitrotoluene (2,4-DNT), 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene (TNT), 2-amino-4,6-dinitrotoluene (2-ADNT), and 4-amino-2,6-dinitrotoluene (4-ADNT). The first signals indicating trace levels of 1,3-DNB were observed in samples from 1999 and 2000. ECs were also found below the limit of detection (LoD) in subsequent years. From 2012 onwards, signals just above the LoD were detected. The highest signal intensities of 2-ADNT and 4-ADNT, just below the LoQ (0.14 ng/g d.w. and 0.17 ng/g d.w., respectively), were measured in 2019 and 2020.

This study clearly shows that corroding submerged munitions are gradually releasing ECs into the waters that can be detected in randomly sampled blue mussels, even though the concentrations measured are still in the non-quantifiable trace range.

doi: 10.3390/toxics11040347