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B5b. Marine pollution

Type: Pressure indicator

Indicator Description

The indicator shows the combined input of 6 of the most hazardous substances to the UK marine environment. The indicator is based on levels of 5 heavy metals (cadmium, mercury, copper, lead and zinc) and one organic compound (lindane). Pollution in the marine environment from these 6 substances should decrease to levels that are non-detrimental by 2020.

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  1. Summary
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Summary

The combined inputs of all 6 hazardous materials into marine environments have shown a long-term decrease of 86% since 1990. Inputs of all 6 of these substances show decreases in the short term since 2012.

Figure B5bi. Combined input of hazardous substances to the UK marine environment, as an index of estimated weight of substances per year, 1990 to 2017

A line graph showing the combined input of hazardous substances to the UK marine environment, as an index of estimated weight of substances per year between 1990 and 2017. Levels of all 6 substances declined sharply over the period 1990 to 2017.

Source: Defra Marine Strategy and Evidence Division, using data provided by: Environment Agency, Northern Ireland Environment Agency, Scottish Environment Protection Agency.

Levels of all 6 substances declined over the period 1990 to 2017: lindane by 97%; both mercury and cadmium by 91%; zinc by 71%; copper by 68% and lead by 58%.  

In the short term, inputs of hazardous substances decreased by 47% from 2012 to 2017 (using a 3-year average for 2012). Inputs of all 6 hazardous substances declined in the short term: lindane had the highest percentage decrease (-89%), followed by cadmium which decreased by 33%, and then lead (-30%), both mercury and zinc decreased by -28%, and copper by 25% since 2012.

Inputs into the marine environment are estimated from concentrations and flow rates in rivers entering the sea and those from estuarine and coastal point sources. Riverine inputs reflect both point and diffuse sources upstream of the sampling point and tend to be strongly influenced by flow rates. Flow rates are heavily affected by rainfall patterns so year to year fluctuations in pollutant loads are likely.

Assessment of change in input of hazardous substances

 

Long term

Short term

Latest year

Combined input of hazardous substances


1990–2017


2012–2017

Decreased (2017)

Note: Long- and short-term assessments are based on a 3% rule of thumb. Where possible, the base years for these assessments use a 3-year average. See Assessing Indicators.

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Downloads

Download the Fiche and Datasheet from the JNCC Resource Hub

Last updated: September 2019

Latest data available: 2017

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Categories:

UK Biodiversity Indicators 2019

Published: .

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