Sunday, 26 May 2019

Heavy metals and harmful chemicals 'poison Europe's seas'


Three-quarters of areas tested show contamination, European Environment Agency says
Fiona Harvey Environment correspondent
Wed 15 May 2019 18.01 BSTLast modified on Thu 16 May 2019 00.35 BST
Heavy metals and a cocktail of dangerous chemicals continue to poison Europe’s seas, with more than three-quarters of areas assessed showing contamination, according to a report.
The sea worst affected was the Baltic, where 96% of the assessed areas showed problematic levels of some harmful substances, according to the European Environment Agency. Similar problems were found in 91% of the Black Sea and 87% of the Mediterranean. In the north-east Atlantic, unsafe levels of chemicals or metals were found in 75% of assessed areas.
However, in most areas the situation was improving, as many of the toxic substances that have washed into the seas – such as the pesticide DDT and heavy metals such as cadmium and mercury – are now subject to bans or severe restrictions. The improvement in the breeding success of the white-tailed sea eagle in the Baltic, for instance, is attributed to the decline in DDT. A continuing problem is with flame-retardant chemicals, which are still used and still found in waterways, and DDT from Africa is still leaching into the Mediterranean.
Europe’s environmental watchdog called for greater controls on the way chemicals are used, and better monitoring of marine health. As well as the damage to human health, the toxins found in Europe’s seas are affecting marine animals.

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