Open Access

Mercury in benthic invertebrates of the Elbe estuary

  • G. -P. Zauke1, 2
Helgoländer wissenschaftliche Meeresuntersuchungen29:BF01614271


Hg concentrations in benthic invertebrates of the Elbe estuary were analyzed by atomic absorption spectrophotometry and instrumental neutron activation analysis. In general Hg levels in organisms decreased from the limnic region to the marine environment. Highest Hg levels were found inAsellus aquaticus andRadix balthica taken from the Elbe upstream of Hamburg (0.35 and 0.34 ppm wet weight). The concentrations in gammarid species decreased from 0.20 ppm (limnic region) to 0.02–0.05 ppm (brackish and marine environment). Hg levels in organisms from the brackish region proved to be 0.08–0.16 ppm(Littorina littorea), 0.04–0.09(Crangon crangon) 0.05–0.10(Corophium volutator) and 0.04–0.08 ppm (wet weight)(Nereis diversicolor). Some factors which may influence the heavy metal concentrations in aquatic organisms are discussed, such as: food chain, weight of organisms, and elimination via moulting products in the case of crustaceans.