Water, Air, & Soil Pollution

, Volume 217, Issue 1–4, pp 321–331 | Cite as

Use of Anguilla anguilla for Biomonitoring Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) in Brackish and Riverine Waters in Central and Southern Italy

  • Roberta BettinettiEmail author
  • Silvana Galassi
  • Silvia Quadroni
  • Pietro Volta
  • Fabrizio Capoccioni
  • Eleonora Ciccotti
  • Giulio A. De Leo


One of the aims of the Water Framework Directive 2000/60/CE is to assess the ecological status of water bodies in Europe in relation to priority contaminants, including some persistent organic pollutants (POPs). Recognizing the benefits of measuring hydrophobic compounds in biota tissues rather than in water, we used the European eel Anguilla anguilla in the present study as a bioindicator species for monitoring POPs in freshwater/brackish environments. We present the results of a contamination analysis of eels carried out in three Italian sites representative of different pollution levels: the last part of Tevere River, which flows through a very urbanized and industrialized area, Caprolace Lake and Lesina Lagoon, inside two different protected national parks. A very high pollution variability was recorded within each group of eels, in particular for those caught at Caprolace Lake. Due to this high variability, inter-population comparisons were carried out only between eels collected in Tevere River and Lesina Lagoon. PCBs values in Lesina Lagoon were two orders of magnitude lower than those measured in Tevere River, while no significant differences were found for levels of DDT compounds. Our results confirm the suitability of the eel as an indicator of persistent bioaccumulative pollutants in brackish environments and rivers where it can be easily caught, but we are sceptical of its use in deep lakes where its capture might be problematic considering standard operation procedures for fish sampling.


Bioindicator species Eel DDTs PCBs Water Framework Directive 



This work was supported by the Italian Ministry of University and Scientific Research-PRIN Project 2006: “An Integrated Approach to the Conservation and Management of the European Eel in the Mediterranean Region”.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Roberta Bettinetti
    • 1
    Email author
  • Silvana Galassi
    • 2
  • Silvia Quadroni
    • 1
    • 2
  • Pietro Volta
    • 3
  • Fabrizio Capoccioni
    • 4
  • Eleonora Ciccotti
    • 4
  • Giulio A. De Leo
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Chemical and Environmental SciencesUniversity of InsubriaComoItaly
  2. 2.Department of BiologyUniversity of MilanMilanItaly
  3. 3.CNR ISEVerbaniaItaly
  4. 4.Department of BiologyUniversity Tor VergataRomeItaly
  5. 5.Department of Environmental SciencesUniversity of ParmaParmaItaly

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