Bioaccumulation in aquatic systems: methodological approaches, monitoring and assessment

Sabine Schäfer, Georgia Buchmeier, Evelyn Claus, Lars Duester, Peter Heininger, Andrea Körner, Philipp Mayer, Albrecht Paschke, Caren Rauert, Georg Reifferscheid, Heinz Rüdel, Christian Schlechtriem, Christa Schröter-Kermani, Dieter Schudoma, Foppe Smedes, Dieter Steffen, Friederike Vietoris

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Bioaccumulation, the accumulation of a chemical in an organism relative to its level in the ambient medium, is of major environmental concern. Thus, monitoring chemical concentrations in biota are widely and increasingly used for assessing the chemical status of aquatic ecosystems. In this paper, various scientific and regulatory aspects of bioaccumulation in aquatic systems and the relevant critical issues are discussed. Monitoring chemical concentrations in biota can be used for compliance checking with regulatory directives, for identification of chemical sources or event-related environmental risk assessment. Assessing bioaccumulation in the field is challenging since many factors have to be considered that can affect the accumulation of a chemical in an organism. Passive sampling can complement biota monitoring since samplers with standardised partition properties can be used over a wide temporal and geographical range. Bioaccumulation is also assessed for regulation of chemicals of environmental concern whereby mainly data from laboratory studies on fish bioaccumulation are used. Field data can, however, provide additional important information for regulators. Strategies for bioaccumulation assessment still need to be harmonised for different regulations and groups of chemicals. To create awareness for critical issues and to mutually benefit from technical expertise and scientific findings, communication between risk assessment and monitoring communities needs to be improved. Scientists can support the establishment of new monitoring programs for bioaccumulation, e.g. in the frame of the amended European Environmental Quality Standard Directive.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironmental Sciences Europe
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Bibliographical note

Erratum published online at:


  • Passive sampling
  • Ecotoxicology
  • Environmental quality
  • Monitoring
  • Chemical assessment
  • Environmental quality standards
  • Water framework directive

Cite this

Schäfer, S., Buchmeier, G., Claus, E., Duester, L., Heininger, P., Körner, A., Mayer, P., Paschke, A., Rauert, C., Reifferscheid, G., Rüdel, H., Schlechtriem, C., Schröter-Kermani, C., Schudoma, D., Smedes, F., Steffen, D., & Vietoris, F. (2015). Bioaccumulation in aquatic systems: methodological approaches, monitoring and assessment. Environmental Sciences Europe, 27(1), 1-10.