Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 19, Issue 3, pp 772–783 | Cite as

Monitoring of hexabromocyclododecane diastereomers in fish from European freshwaters and estuaries

  • Heinz RüdelEmail author
  • Josef Müller
  • Markus Quack
  • Roland Klein
Research Article


Background and aims

Hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD) is a brominated flame retardant used mainly in polystyrene foam as well as in textile applications. In recent years, measures were taken to reduce HBCD emissions during its production and use. To evaluate the efficacy of these measures, a monitoring project was initiated with fish as bioaccumulation indicators.


Since 2007 bream was sampled annually at several European freshwater sites applying standardized methods. Muscle samples were analyzed by a validated liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) method which allows the quantification of α-, β-, and γ-diastereomers of HBCD.


In most samples, α-HBCD was predominant. The lowest HBCD levels (11 μg/kg lipid weight (lw), sum of three HBCD diastereomers) were detected in bream sampled in 2009 from Lake Belau which is situated in a rural area of Northern Germany. During the 4-year study period, statistical significant decreases of HBCD concentrations were detected in bream from the rivers Rhone (France; −85%, level 2010, 205 μg/kg lw) and Western Scheldt (the Netherlands; −60%, level 2010, 36 μg/kg lw). High HBCD concentrations (9,480–14,500 μg/kg lw) without a clear time trend were observed in bream from the river Tees (UK). These high levels are in line with published data for fish from contaminated regions.


Overall, the results indicate that environmental burdens of HBCD are decreasing at those locations where point sources and more diffuse emissions are expected.


HBCD Environmental monitoring Bream Sole Temporal trends 



The authors thank the European Flame Retardant Association (EFRA), the PlasticsEurope Association, and the European Extruded Polystyrene Insulation Boards Association (EXIBA) for the long-term funding of the project “Environmental Monitoring of HBCD.” The contributions of Walter Böhmer, Dr. Annette Fliedner, Diana Homrighausen, Jens Nowak, Sonja Uhlig, and Martin Weingärtner (Fraunhofer IME Schmallenberg), and Martina Bartel-Steinbach, Lena Wilms, and Christian Ehrmantraut (University of Trier) to the project are gratefully acknowledged.

Supplementary material

11356_2011_604_MOESM1_ESM.doc (424 kb)
ESM 1 (DOC 424 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Heinz Rüdel
    • 1
    Email author
  • Josef Müller
    • 1
  • Markus Quack
    • 2
  • Roland Klein
    • 2
  1. 1.Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology (Fraunhofer IME)SchmallenbergGermany
  2. 2.Department of BiogeographyUniversity of TrierTrierGermany

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