Bioaccumulation of metals (Cd, Cu, Ni, Pb and Zn) in suspended cultures of blue mussels exposed to different environmental conditions

Marie Maar*, Martin Mørk Larsen, Ditte Bruunshøj Tørring, Jens Kjerulf Petersen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Farming of suspended mussels is important for generating high protein food and animal feed or for removing nutrients in eutrophic systems. However, the harvested mussels must not be severely contaminated by pollutants posing a potential health risk for the consumers. The present study estimated the bioaccumulation of cadmium, copper, nickel, lead and zinc in suspended blue mussels (Mytilus edulis L.) in the Limfjorden, Denmark, based on observations and modelling. Modelling was used to assess the suitability of suspended blue mussels as animal feed and food products at sea water metal concentrations corresponding to Good Ecological Status (GES) in the European Union Water Framework Directive (WFD) and in future climate change scenarios (higher metal concentrations and higher temperatures). For this purpose, GES is interpreted as good chemical status for the metals using the Environmental Quality Standards (EQS) defined in the WFD priority substance daughter directives. Observations showed that suspended mussels were healthy with respect to metal pollution and generally less polluted than benthic mussels due to the smaller contact with the contaminated sediment. The model results showed that the WFD targets for Cd, Ni and Pb are not protective with respect to marine mussel production and probably should be reduced for marine waters. Climate changes may increase the metal contamination of mussels, but not to any critical level at the relatively unpolluted study sites. In conclusion, WFD targets should be revised to assure that the corresponding body burdens of metals in mussels are below the safety limits according to the EU Directives and the Norwegian classification for animal feed and food production.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEstuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science
Pages (from-to)185-197
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Model-bioaccumulation
  • Metals
  • Aquaculture
  • Benthic mussels
  • EU Water Framework Directive
  • Climate change
  • Limfjorden


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