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The establishment of EVISA is funded by the EU through the Fifth Framework Programme (G7RT- CT- 2002- 05112).

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ERM-CE101: A new CRM for assessing environmental quality through fish


Mercury is a global pollutant in the environment, being found even in remotest regions of the earth. Pollution of watercourses is a concern throughout Europe. The European Commission therefore requires Member States to monitor and report on their condition (Directive 2000/60/EC). Legislation specifies environmental quality standards (EQS). These are set, based on the levels of contaminants in different compartments of the ecosystem (Directive 2013/39/EU). For mercury, the design and validation of methods to measure these EQS might present a challenge for laboratories. One such way to monitor compliance with EQS is to sample fish from these environments and look for the levels of contaminants that they contain.

The new CRM:
Many are concerned with measuring mercury in fish at levels close to the legislative limits for food (Commission Regulation (EC) No 1881/2006), which are over an order of magnitude higher than the EQS. Hence, a new Certified Reference Material (CRM) with mercury content close to the EQS was considered an important tool for validation of methods.

ERM-CE101 The JRC therefore produced ERM-CE101, which is a matrix material produced from fresh fish (mainly trout) and certified for the mass fractions of elements.

It is a new type of CRM, a paste of fresh fish muscle sealed and sterilized in glass jars, which should have the same chemical behaviour as fresh fish samples. It will thus improve the reliability of the analysis of this type of sample.

The CRM is available from the JRC as well as from its authorised distributors. A full report on the production and certification of the CRM is available through the online catalogue:

Related information

EUR-Lex: Maximum levels for mercury in certain foods have been established by Commission Regulation (EC) No 1881/2006 (see Section 3.3 of the Annex).

EUR-Lex: Provisions for methods of sampling and analysis for the official control of lead, cadmium, mercury, inorganic tin, 3-MCPD and benzo(a)pyrene in foodstuffs are laid down in Commission Regulation (EC) No 333/2007.

EFSA: Scientific Opinion on the risk for public health related to the presence of mercury and methylmercury in Food

Related EVISA Resources

Material Database: Fish CRMs
Material Database: ERM-CE101: Trout Muscle (Trace Elements)
Brief Summary: Speciation Analysis - Striving for Quality
Link Database: Mercury exposure through the diet
Link Database: Environmental cycling of methylmercury
Link Database: Environmental cycling of inorganic mercury
Link Database: Environmental pollution of methylmercury
Link Database: Environmental pollution of inorganic mercury
Link Database: Toxicity of mercury

Related EVISA News

December 3, 2018: The European Commission has put on hold plans to increase maximum authorised mercury level in fish
January 29, 2017:
Toxic Mercury in Aquatic Life Could Spike due to Climate Change

January 14, 2013: Mercury Levels in Humans and Fish Around the World Regularly Exceed Health Advisory Levels

January 25, 2012: New Report Shows High Levels of Mercury in Terrestrial Ecosystems
October 15, 2011: Mercury pollution in the Great Lakes region -- nearly forgotten, but not gone
June 28, 2010: New Study Examines Why Mercury is More Dangerous in Oceans
September 8, 2009: Inorganic Mercury Level in US Women increases
August 21, 2009: USGS Study Reveals Mercury Contamination in Fish Nationwide
June 17, 2009: 'Surprisingly High Levels' of Methylmercury Contamination found in Groundwater
May 3, 2009: Ocean mercury on the rise
February 11, 2009: Mercury in Fish is a Global Health Concern
March 11, 2007: Methylmercury contamination of fish warrants worldwide public warning
February 18, 2007: New research results suggest that mercury hotspots in the northeastern US are home made
October 9, 2006: Linking atmospheric mercury to methylmercury in fish
September 23, 2006: Report Finds Mercury Contamination Permeates Wildlife Systems
August 16, 2006: Mercury pollution threatens health worldwide, scientists say
June 16, 2006: Sulfur fuels the methylation of mercury
February 17, 2006: Study shows link between clear lakes and methylmercury contamination in fish
February 9, 2006: Study show high levels of mercury in women related to fish consumption
September 13, 2005: Regulating Mercury Emissions from Power Plants: Will It Protect Our Health?
April 3, 2005: Dissension on the best way to fight mercury pollution
March 20, 2005: New results on the distribution of mercury in the USA is fueling the discussion on the necessity of the reduction of its emission
January 12, 2005: Number of fish meals is a good predictor for the mercury found in hair of environmental journalists
November 23, 2004:  Is the methylmercury paradox real ?
April 27, 2004: FDA/EPA recommends pregnant women to restrict their fish consumption because of methylmercury content

last time modified: March 31, 2019


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