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Selection and application of trophic magnification factors for priority substances to normalize freshwater fish monitoring data under the European Water Framework Directive: A case study

: Rüdel, Heinz; Kosfeld, Verena; Fliedner, Annette; Radermacher, Georg; Schlechtriem, Christian; Duffek, Anja; Rauert, Caren; Koschorreck, Jan

Volltext ()

Environmental Sciences Europe : ESEU 32 (2020), Art. 138, 21 S.
ISSN: 2190-4715
ISSN: 2190-4707
Zeitschriftenaufsatz, Elektronische Publikation
Fraunhofer IME ()
biomagnification factor; biota monitoring; fish; food web; freshwater; compliance assessment; trophic magnification factor; water framework directive

The European Water Framework Directive (WFD) requires the monitoring of biota—preferably fish—to check the compliance of tissue concentrations of priority substances (PS) against substance-specific environmental quality standards (EQSs). In monitoring programs, different fish species are covered, which often are secondary consumers with a trophic level (TL) of about 3. For harmonization, a normalization of monitoring data to a common trophic level is proposed, i.e., TL 4 (predatory fish) in freshwaters, so that data would be sufficiently protective. For normalization, the biomagnification properties of the chemicals can be considered by applying substance-specific trophic magnification factors (TMFs). Alternatively, TL-corrected biomagnification factors (BMFTLs) may be applied. Since it is impractical to derive site-specific TMFs or BMFTLs, often data from literature will be used for normalization. However, available literature values for TMFs and BMFTLs are quite varying. In the present study, the use of literature-derived TMFs and BMFTLs in data normalization is studied more closely.
An extensive literature evaluation was conducted to identify appropriate TMFs for the WFD PS polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE), hexachlorobenzene, perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), dioxins and dioxin-like compounds (PCDD/F + dl-PCB), hexabromocyclododecane, and mercury. The TMFs eventually derived were applied to PS monitoring data sets of fish from different trophic levels (chub, bream, roach, and perch) from two German rivers. For comparison, PFOS and PBDE data were also normalized using literature-retrieved BMFTLs.
The evaluation illustrates that published TMFs and BMFTLs for WFD PS are quite variable and the selection of appropriate values for TL 4 normalization can be challenging. The normalized concentrations partly included large uncertainties when considering the range of selected TMFs, but indicated whether an EQS exceedance at TL 4 can be expected. Normalization of the fish monitoring data revealed that levels of substances accumulating in the food web (TMF or BMF > 1) can be underestimated when relying on fish with TL < 4 for EQS compliance assessment. The evaluation also revealed that TMF specifically derived for freshwater ecosystems in Europe would be advantageous. Field-derived BMFTLs seemed to be no appropriate alternative to TMFs, because they can vary even stronger than TMFs.