Monitoring of the aquatic environment by species accumulator of pollutants: a review

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Oscar RAVERA *
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Oscar RAVERA |


This paper is a short review on the biomonitoring of aquatic environments by animal and plant species accumulators of toxic pollutants ("scavengers"). This monitoring is based on the relationship between the pollutant concentration in the organism and that in its environment, and not on alterations produced by pollution on the biota. The latter is the basis of other types of biomonitoring, such as those based on the biotic and diversity indices and saprobic scale. The various aspects of monitoring by pollutant accumulators are illustrated; for example, the uptake and loss of pollutants, the "critical organs" and "tissues", the detoxification mechanisms and the most common factors (C.F., BAF, BSAF) for establishing a connection between the pollutant concentration in the organism and that in its environment. Several examples of this monitoring on heavy metals, radioisotopes and organic micropollutants are reported. The advantages of this monitoring, the characteristics of the species to be used as bioaccumulators and some practical suggestions are listed. A close collaboration between the scientific teams working on the biomonitoring based on accumulator organisms and on the chemical monitoring is recommended from the scientific and economic point of view.

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