The EcoQO on Mercury and Organohalogens in Coastal Bird Eggs

Report on the Pilot Study 2008 – 2010

Citation: Dittmann TD, Becker PH, Bakker J, Bignert A, Nyberg E, Pereira MG, Pijanowska U, Shore R, Stienen EWM, Toft GO & Marencic H (2011). The EcoQO on mercury and organohalogens in coastal bird eggs: report on the pilot study 2008 – 2010. (INBO.R.2011.43). Research Institute for Nature and Forest, Brussel


To categorize the current environmental health status of the Northeast Atlantic and the North Sea, ecological quality objectives (EcoQOs) have been formulated by OSPAR in recent years for different ecological quality elements such as the ontamination of the marine environment with anthropogenic heavy metals and organochlorines. To measure it, coastal bird eggs have proven to provide a favorable matrix. In 2005, following advice from ICES, OSPAR agreed on the threshold concentrations proposed as EcoQOs for these two major substance groups in bird eggs. In a pilot study, residues of the heavy metal mercury (Hg) and the organochlorines PCBs (62 congeners summarized = ΣPCB), DDT and metabolites (ΣDDT), HCB and the different HCH isomers (ΣHCH) were analyzed in Common Tern Sterna hirundo or Arctic Tern Sterna paradisaea and Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus eggs collected at in total 21 sites in seven nations surrounding the North Sea. For the majority of sites, sampling took place in 2008, 2009 and 2010. The methods of sampling and analyzing were performed according to internationally recognized standards (JAMP, OSPAR).