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Definition of bioaccumulation:
Bioaccumulation is the gradual accumulation of a certain chemical into the living tissue of an organism from its environment. This accumulation may result from direct absorption from the environment or from ingestion of food particles.
This is the common definition for bioaccumulation, other definitions can be discussed in the article


The concentration of bioacumulation substances usually increases in with the age of an organism. Bioaccumulation is one of the factors used to asses the environmental hazard of a chemical. Chemicals with a higher tendency towards bioaccumulation form a greater hazard. When a substance bioaccumulates at each step of the food chain it will biomagnify [1]

Like tocicity and persistence, bioaccumulation is an important criterion to determine the environmental impact of a substance. According to OSPAR criteria, a substance poses a risk for bioaccumulation when fishes accumulate by direct adsorption (uptake through their gills), more than 500 times the concentration of the surrounding water.[2]


  1. Biology of marine birds. Schreiber, E.A. & Burger, J. (Eds). 2002. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press. 722 pp.
  2. Cut-Off Values for the Selection Criteria of the OSPAR Dynamic Selection and Prioritisation Mechanism for Hazardous Substances
The main author of this article is Daphnis De Pooter
Please note that others may also have edited the contents of this article.

Citation: Daphnis De Pooter (2020): Bioaccumulation. Available from [accessed on 24-07-2024]