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J Environ Monit. 2003 Dec;5(6):876-84.

Determination of VOCs in yellow eel from various inland water bodies in Flanders (Belgium).

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Management Unit Mathematical Models of the North Sea, Royal Belgian Institute for Natural Sciences, 3e and 23e Linieregimentsplein, B-8400 Oostende, Belgium.


Twenty freshwater eels caught in Flanders (Belgium) were analysed by GC-MS for a total of 52 VOCs. The most prominent VOCs are the BTEX and a number of chlorinated compounds such as chloroform and tetrachloroethene. The observed concentrations which, typically, were in the low ng/g wet weight range, could be linked to the major emission sources and the present study gives new evidence that combustion of fossil fuels is a major source of BTEX in the environment. The concentration levels in eels seem to be a reflection of the actual concentrations in their environment. For eels from the same location similar patterns and concentrations were observed, and the concentrations agree with what can be expected from those of the water column. Generally speaking, the observed concentrations do not seem to pose a threat for organisms. More definite statements will, however, require a larger dataset. The study suggests that the yellow eel can possibly be used as a biomonitor or sentinel organism for VOCs.

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