Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 24, Issue 4, pp 3626–3639 | Cite as

An integrated assessment of pollution and biological effects in flounder, mussels and sediment in the southern Baltic Sea coastal area

  • Henryka Dabrowska
  • Orest Kopko
  • Kari K. Lehtonen
  • Thomas Lang
  • Ilona Waszak
  • Maija Balode
  • Evita Strode
Research Article


Organic and metal contaminants and biological effects were investigated in flounder, mussels, and sediments in the southern Baltic Sea coastal area in order to assess environmental quality status in that area. Four sites were selected, including two within the Gulf of Gdańsk (GoG). In biota and sediment at each site, DDTs dominated over PCBs and PBDEs were the least abundant among organic contaminants. Their concentrations decreased progressively outward from GoG. Among metal contaminants, the levels of Hg, Pb, and Cd were elevated in GoG. Biomarkers in flounder, EROD activity and DNA SB, showed moderate positive correlations with organic and metal contaminants. In flounder, the integrated biomarker index (IBR/n) presented a spatial trend coherent with chemical pollution index (CPI), but there was no clear spatial correspondence between IBR/n and CPI in mussels nor between sediment toxicity index (STI) and sediment CPI. The integrated assessment of contaminant and biological effect data against available assessment criteria indicated that in biota, the contaminant assessment thresholds were most often exceeded by CB-118, heptachlor, PBDE, and Hg (in the GoG sediments by p,p′-DDT, Hg and Cd), while of the biological determinants, the threshold was breeched by AChE activity in mussels in GoG. Applying the ICES/OSPAR traffic-light approach showed that of the 50 parameters assessed at each site, there were 18% of determinants in the red color category in the two GoG sites and 8% of determinants in the two sites outside GoG, which indicated that none of the four investigated sites attained good environmental status (GES).


Baltic Sea Chemical pollution Biological effects Flounder Mussels Sediments Integrated assessment Good environmental status 



The research received funding from the European Community’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP/2007–2013) under grant agreement number 217246 made with the Joint Baltic Sea Research and Development Programme BONUS+ (BEAST project) and from the Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education. The authors thank Agnieszka Góra (NMFRI) for assistance with organic chemical analysis and Lucyna Polak-Juszczak (NMFRI) for metal analysis.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Henryka Dabrowska
    • 1
  • Orest Kopko
    • 1
  • Kari K. Lehtonen
    • 2
  • Thomas Lang
    • 3
  • Ilona Waszak
    • 1
  • Maija Balode
    • 4
  • Evita Strode
    • 4
  1. 1.National Marine Fisheries Research Institute (NMFRI)GdyniaPoland
  2. 2.Marine Research CentreFinnish Environment InstituteHelsinkiFinland
  3. 3.Johann Heinrich von Thünen-Institute/Institute of Fisheries EcologyCuxhavenGermany
  4. 4.Latvian Institute of Aquatic EcologyRigaLatvia

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