Selected Results

A selection of commented investigation results based on sampling data from the Environmental Specimen Bank.

Longterm monitoring

Accumulation patterns of heavy metals in the marine food web

The analysis of organisms from different trophic levels allows for the assessment of accumulation patterns of substances in the food web. Lead is not enriched in the marine food web. Highest levels are found in blue mussels. In contrast, mercury is clearly biomagnified with highest concentrations in herring gull eggs.

Retrospective monitoring

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.

Analysis examples

alpha-HCH contamination of roe deer from the Nationalpark Harz

Decreasing contamination since the early 1990s

Longterm monitoring

Arsenic in environmental specimens

Levels of arsenic are mostly quite low. Continuous concentration trends over time are found only in single cases. During the monitoring period, decreasing arsenic concentrations were detected in spruce shoots from the Saarland conurbation (Warndt). Arsenic also decreased in herring gull eggs from the North Sea island Trischen. In contrast, levels of arsenic increased in bream from the Saale (Wettin).

Analysis examples

Barium levels in bladder wrack from the North- and Baltic Seas

Significant difference in barium levels of bladder wrack from the North and Baltic Seas.

Analysis examples

Benz[a]anthracene in earthworms from the Saartal and the city of Leipzig

Differences in contamination between two regions with high anthropogenic impact

Analysis examples

Benzo[b]naphtho[2,1-d]thiophene in blue mussels from the Jadebusen

Significant decrease in contamination since the late 1980s

Analysis examples

Benzo[e]pyrene in leaves of poplars from the Saartal

Decreasing contamination since the early 1990s

Analysis examples

Benzo[ghi]perylene in blue mussels from the Baltic Sea

Only marginal variations since the early 1990s

Analysis examples

beta-HCH in bream from the river Mulde

Peak contamination after Elbe flood of 2002

Analysis examples

beta-HCH in suspended particulate matter (SPM) from rivers Rhine and Elbe

High HCH contamination of SPM at Elbe sampling sites downstream the Mulde mouth

Longterm monitoring

Cadmium in environmental specimens

Since the mid 1980s cadmium levels in spruce shoots and poplar leaves from the Saarland conurbation remained more or less constant.<br /> In marine samples cadmium levels increased, decreased or remained more or less constant depending on sampling area and specimen.

Analysis examples

Chromium in spruce shoots from the Saarland conurbation

Significant decrease in chromium contamination since the mid 1980s

Analysis examples

Chrysene and triphenylene in spruce from the Saarland Conurbation

Declining contamination since the mid 1980s

Analysis examples

Cobalt in earthworms from the semi-natural sampling site Solling and the anthropogenic influenced area Dübener Heide

Significant differences in cobalt levels at both sampling sites

Analysis examples

Cobalt in zebra mussels from the Donau

Significant differences between the sampling sites

Longterm monitoring

Comparison between North Sea and Baltic Sea: Differences in levels of metals and arsenic in blue mussels

Blue mussels from the North Sea sampling sites Eckwarderhörne (Jadebay) and Südlich Lister Hafen/Königshafen (Sylt-Römö-Watt) have significantly higher mercury and arsenic contents compared to mussels from the Baltic Sea sampling site Darßer Ort. In contrast, cadmium levels are higher in Baltic Sea mussels. Lead concentrations are more or less the same in blue mussels from the sampling sites Darßer Ort and Eckwarderhörne whereas lower levels are observed in mussels from the Sylt-Römö-Watt. While nearly constant burdens are detected in mussels from Eckwarderhörne and Darßer Ort, concentrations of cadmium, mercury and arsenic have increased in mussels from the Sylt-Römö-Watt since the mid 1980s.&nbsp; <br /> Blue mussels from both North Sea sites exceed the OSPAR background concentrations for cadmium, lead and mercury. Respective background concentrations for Baltic Sea mussels are not available yet.

Analysis examples

Copper in blue mussels from the North and the Baltic Sea

Higher copper levels in mussels from the Baltic Sea

Analysis examples

Coronene in beech from the Nationalpark Bayerischer Wald

Current concentrations are above the average values of previous years

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DDD and DDE in suspended particulate matter (SPM) of rivers Rhine and Elbe

Significant higher contamination in the river Elbe

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DDT in soil

Significantly higher DDT metabolite levels in soils from the former German Democratic Republic

Analysis examples

Dieldrin in eggs of herring gulls from the North and the Baltic Sea

Significant decrease in contamination of eggs from the North Sea

Analysis examples

Fluoranthene in spruce shoots from the Saarländischer Verdichtungsraum and the Nationalpark Bayerischer Wald

Considerable differences in contamination between a region with high anthropogenic impact and a semi-natural environment

Monitoring the efficacy

Has the ban of persistent pesticides resulted in decreased environmental contamination?

The Pesticide Application Ordinance has led to a significant decline of environmental pollution by organochloro pesticides. Heptachlor, heptachlor epoxide and aldrin are no longer present in the environmental samples. Dieldrin is detected only in single samples and at low levels. DDT and its metabolites, however, are still present in the environment. DDT and DDE levels are considerably higher in samples from East Germany as compared to West Germany.

Retrospective monitoring

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.

Analysis examples

Hexachlorobenzene in blood plasma of students from Münster

Significant decrease in hexachlorobenzene burdens since the 1980s

Analysis examples

Indeno[1,2,3-cd]pyrene in pine from the Dübener Heide

Significant decline in contamination since the early 1990s

Analysis examples

Iron in pine shoots from the Dübener Heide

Significant decreases in iron contents since the early 1990s

Analysis examples

Lead in eelpout from the North and the Baltic Sea

Decreasing contaminations in North Sea eelpouts

Analysis examples

Lead in soil

Natural background concentrations cause high lead concentrations in soil from the German uplands Harz