Bioaccumulation, physiological and biochemical effects of pollutants in mussels

Updated 2003-07-02

In order to evaluate the capacity of mussels to accumulate pollutants and to enhance growth and physiological effects, an investigation was carried out in the Faroe Islands and in the Skagerrak. In March 2000, about 1500 mussels of proper dimensions (length ranging between 5 and 6 cm) were collected in the Kaldbak Fjord (Faroe Islands) on a 10m water column. Selected mussels were divided in 4 groups (320 each) and deployed in 4 different stations (one at the Faroe Islands and three in the Skagerrak). Semipermeable membrane devices (SPMDs) were also deployed in the same stations for the preconcentration of lipophilic pollutants. One month later (end of April-beginning of May) mussels and SPMDs were recollected and sent to different laboratories for the determination of various parameters.

Time frame

Project time span
1998 - 2000
Data collection
not specified
Data processing
not specified
Data reporting
not specified

Contact information

Contact person
Sergio Ceradini
CESI SpA via Rubattino 34 Milano Italy
+39 02 2128150

Parameters and Media

Parameter groups measured/observed/modelled
Biological effects
Persistent organic pollutants (POPs)
Media sampled/studied/modelled
Marine benthos
Seawater/suspended particulate matter


Regions studied
Persistent organic pollutants (POPs)
Persistent organic pollutants (POPs)
Persistent organic pollutants (POPs)
Persistent organic pollutants (POPs)

Data availability

Samples/specimens archived in specimen banks?

Methods & Procedures

Procedures and methodology used for, e.g., sampling and sample storage, sample pretreatment, extraction and analysis, including which laboratories are involved, references to methods employed, etc.

Samples, mussels and SPMDs were analysed for the determination of PCBs, PAH and flame retardants concentrations, in order to assess bioconcentration factors in mussels. Only on mussel samples the determination of heavy metals was also performed. Before deployment at the different sites the mussels were individually marked at the edges of the shells which permitted measurement of shell growth. In order to find out any physiological effects in the deployed mussels measurements of energy budget "scope for growth", a method recomended by ICES, was performed. The measurements involved oxygen consumption, clearance rate, absorption efficiency and ammonia excretion were performed immediately after transportation from the field. In order to look for a connection between the health status and the water quality, the blood cell types have also been quantified and analysed with the help of a software image analysis. Also the gonadal condition were noted. Neutral red uptake assay, a method that uses the lysosomal membrane integrity in blood cells of the mussel Mytilus edulis as a biological indicator of water quality, was performed. A specific study to investigate a possible different activity of Cytochrome P450 1A1 in mussels, related to the area where the mussels were grown, was carried out.

Additional Information

Is this a bi- AND multi-lateral project (i.e. a project involving cooperation between different countries)?
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