The English Channel: Contamination status of its transitional and coastal waters

The chemical contamination (organic compounds, metals, radionuclides, microplastics, nutrients) of English Channel waters has been reviewed, focussing on the sources, concentrations and impacts. River loads were only reliable for Pb, whereas atmospheric loads appeared robust for Cd, Pb, Hg, PCB-153 and γ-HCH. Temporal trends in atmospheric inputs were decreasing. Contaminant concentrations in biota were relatively constant or decreasing, but not for Cd, Hg and HBCDD, and deleterious impacts on fish and copepods were reported. However, data on ecotoxicological effects were generally sparse for legacy and emerging contaminants. Intercomparison of activity concentrations of artificial radionuclides in sediments and biota on both Channel coasts was hindered by differences in methodological approaches. Riverine phosphate loads decreased with time, while nitrate loads remained uniform. Increased biomass of algae, attributable to terrestrial inputs of nutrients, has affected benthic production and shellfisheries. A strategic approach to the identification of contaminant impacts on marine biota is recommended.

A.D. Tappin, G.E. Millward, Marine Pollution Bulletin, Volume 95, Issue 2, Pages 529–550, 30 June 2015

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