Factors determining the uptake of persistent pollutants in an eel population (Anguilla anguilla L.) of a eutrophic lake

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The distribution of persistent pollutants in an eel population from a eutrophic lake of southern Scandinavia was examined. The origin of PCBs, DDT, DDE and lindane found in the fish was most likely the atmosphere. The most important factors for uptake of the chlorinated hydrocarbons was age (exposure time), growth rate and fat content. The life cycle of the eel is unique with a stage in freshwater when energy reserves (fat stored in muscular tissue) and lipophilic pollutants are accumulated. This stage is followed by a long migration to the spawning areas in the Sargasso Sea when pollutants are released from the fat deposits. These two stages followed by a once-in-a-lifetime spawning behaviour, makes the eel especially vulnerable to persistent pollutants. The effects of persistent pollutants combined with the eel's unusual life cycle may explain the decline in the eel population in northern Europe in recent decades.


  • Per Larsson
  • Stellan Hamrin
  • Lennart Okla
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Biological Sciences
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-50
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1991
Publication categoryResearch