The final report for 'Biological Effects and Chemical Measurements in Irish Marine Waters' has just been published after four years of collaborative research led by Trinity College Dublin in partnership with the Marine Institute, Shannon Aquatic Toxicity Laboratory (Enterprise Ireland) and Dublin Institute of Technology.
This pilot project reports the first major Irish study that examined both pollutant levels in the coastal environment while concurrently assessing the potential for biological-based effects on organisms exposed to these often hazardous substances.
The study completed testing of a variety of chemical and biological-based monitoring tools in diverse coastal locations in Dublin, Wexford, Cork, Kerry, Clare and Galway. It confirmed that Irish coastal water quality is generally good with the most elevated pollutant levels detected typically at more populated locations subject to greater impacts and pressures. Lower pollutant levels were generally evident in less populated areas where diffuse pollution rather than local sources are of greater relevance.
The findings of this report note that using a suite of biological effects as part of an integrated approach to support chemical measurements gives a better overview of the health of our marine ecosystem. For example, chemical compounds and mixtures present in the environment in combination with natural changes in the ocean, such as salinity or temperature, can all work in synergy or against each other to elicit diverse effects on the marine environment and on resident marine species.
The report can be found on the EPA's website at http://www.epa.ie/pubs/reports/research/water/research134epamarineinstitute.html#.VDfYBWddVQA