Reproduction of European eel jeopardised by high levels of dioxins and dioxin-like PCBs?

Caroline Geeraerts, J F Focant, G Eppe, E De Pauw, Claude Belpaire

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    Dioxins, furans and dioxin-like polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) were analysed in muscle tissue from yellow phased European eel (Anguilla anguilla) from 38 sites in Belgium. Dioxin concentrations in eel vary considerably between sampling locations, indicating that yellow eel is a good indicator of local pollution levels. Measured levels of dioxin-like PCBs are much higher than those of the dioxins and furans. In the majority of the sites, eel has levels considered to be detrimental for their reproduction. Field levels of dioxin and dioxin-like PCBs are therefore suggested as an additional causal factor contributing to the decline of the European eel. 42% of the sampling sites show especially dioxin-like PCB levels exceeding the European consumption level (with a factor 3 on average). Human consumption of eel, especially in these highly contaminated sites, seems unjustified.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalScience of the total environment
    Issue number19
    Pages (from-to)4039-4047
    Number of pages9
    Publication statusPublished - 2011

    Thematic list

    • Pollution
    • Fish
    • Water Framework Directive

    EWI Biomedical sciences

    • B003-ecology
    • B740-toxicology

    Taxonomic list

    • freshwater eels (Anguillidae)


    • aquatic management
    • public health
    • fisheries policy

    Geographic list

    • Flanders


    • fisheries technology


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