Open Access

Bioavailability of lead in North Sea sediments

  • M. Kersten1 and
  • I. Kröncke2
Helgoländer Meeresuntersuchungen45:BF02367175


As part of an interdisciplinary research programme, lead contents were measured in the polychaeteNephtys spp. and in the sea-urchinEchinocardium cordatum as well as in the respective sediment fractions <20 μm taken from the Dogger Bank proper and the eastern coastal North Sea. A lower lead content was generally observed in the organisms taken from the German Bight than in those from the Dogger Bank, especially from its northeastern part. It is possible to divide both areas according to the slope found in the linear regression of lead versus total organic carbon contents in sediments, which is twice as steep for the Dogger Bank as for the eastern North Sea. This criterium points to a difference in sediment quality with regard to toxic metal contamination. The sediment quality of the Dogger Bank seems to be twice as bad compared with that of the eastern North Sea. This is in good agreement with the differences found in lead contamination of the sediment-dwelling polychaetes from both areas. The results indicate that lead is primarily accumulated by food ingestion.