PFOS contamination in bib and plaice in the Western Scheldt

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Plaice on ice © VLIZ (Decleer)

Context of the study

There is a lack of information on the pollution caused by perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) in the aquatic wildlife of Western Europe. The degree of PFOS pollution in the Western Scheldt is particularly interesting, given its importance as a nursing area for wild life, and the presence of important chemical plants in Antwerp (upstream of the Western Scheldt).[1]

Content of the study

The aim of this study was to determine PFOS concentrations in the muscles and livers of two common fish species: bib and plaice. The study used fish occurring at different locations of the Belgian part of the North Sea and in the Western Scheldt. This way information was obtained on the severity and distribution of the PFOS pollution.
Three bibs © Alain Norro
It was also investigated whether the PFOS concentrations varied between different fish sizes or between other possible factors.

Main results of the study

Both for bib and plaice, PFOS concentrations in the liver and muscles were higher for the specimens caught in the Western Scheldt than for those caught at sea. Furthermore, the closer the fish were caught to Antwerp the higher the PFOS concentrations got. This could suggest discharges of PFOS in Antwerp. It may however be argued that these higher concentrations are caused by the smaller average size of the fish. It has been suggested that, while growing, the fish dilute their PFOS content, causing larger fish to have lower PFOS contents. This study indeed observed lower PFOS concentrations in the livers of large bibs. The study also indicated that high concentrations of PFOS might cause liver damage in bibs.[1]


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 (2019): PFOS contamination in bib and plaice in the Western Scheldt. Available from [accessed on 17-07-2024]