• Establishing boundary classes for the classification of UK marine waters using phytoplankton communities

      Devlin, M.; Best, M.; Coates, D.; Bresnan, E.; O'Boyle, S.; Parke, R.; Silke, J.; Cusack, C.; Skeats, J. (Elsevier, 2007)
      This paper presents a description of three of the proposed phytoplankton indices under investigation as part of a classification framework for UK and ROI marine waters. The three indices proposed for the classification process are (i) phytoplankton biomass measured as chlorophyll, (ii) the frequency of elevated phytoplankton counts measuring individual species and total cell counts and (iii) seasonal progression of phytoplankton functional groups through the year. Phytoplankton biomass is calculated by a 90th percentile measurement of chlorophyll over the growing season (April to September) compared to a predetermined reference value. Calculation of functional groups and cell counts are taken as proportional counts derived from the presence of the indicator species or group as compared to the total phytoplankton count. Initial boundary conditions for the assessment of high/good status were tested for each index. Chlorophyll reference conditions were taken from thresholds developed for previous EU directives with the setting of offshore concentrations as a reference condition. Thresholds for elevated counts of phytoplankton taxa were taken from previous EU assessments describing counts that could be impact negatively on the environment. Reference seasonal growth curves are established using phytoplankton counts from ‘‘high status’’ waterbodies. To test the preliminary boundaries for each index, a risk assessment integrating nutrient enrichment and susceptibility for coastal and transitional waters was carried out to identify WFD waterbodies in England and Wales at different levels of risk. Waterbodies assessed as having low or medium risk from nutrient enrichment were identified as type 1 and type 2 waterbodies, and waterbodies assessed as high risk were identified as type 3 waterbodies. Phytoplankton data was extracted from the risk assigned waterbodies and applied to each phytoplankton index to test the robustness of the preliminary classification ranges for each phytoplankton index.
    • A sensitive liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry method for the determination of natural and synthetic steroid estrogens in seawater and marine biota, with a focus on proposed Water Framework Directive Environmental Quality Standards

      Ronan, J.; McHugh, B. (Wiley, 2013)
      RATIONALE: Trace levels of natural and synthetic steroid estrogens estrone (E1), 17b-estradiol (E2) and 17a-ethynyl estradiol (EE2) have been demonstrated to exert adverse effects in exposed organisms. E2 and EE2 have been proposed for inclusion in the Water Framework Directive (WFD) list of priority pollutants; however, the detection and accurate quantification of these compounds provide significant challenges, due to the low detection limits required. METHODS: A sensitive method combining ultrasonication, solid-phase extraction (SPE) and liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry, with electrospray ionisation in negative mode (LC/ESI-MS/MS), capable of determining E1, E2 and EE2 at concentrations between 0.07 and 60 ng/L for seawater and between 0.4 and 200 ng/g wet weight in Mytilus spp. is reported. Recoveries at the limit of quantification (LOQ) ranged from 95 to 102% and 88 to 100% for water and tissue, respectively. Salinity (12 to 35%) and typical marine particulate matter loadings (between 10 and 100 mg/L) were not found to affect analyte recoveries. RESULTS: The first detection of E1 by LC/MS/MS in Irish marine waters (Dublin Bay, at 0.76 ng/L) is reported. Steroids were not detected in Galway Bay, or in any mussel samples from Dublin, Galway and Clare. The level of E2 detected in the dissolved water phase was below the proposed WFD Environmental Quality Standard (EQS) in other surface waters. CONCLUSIONS: The proposed method is suitable for the detection of E1, E2 and EE2 at biologically relevant concentrations and, due to the specificity offered, is not subject to potential interferences from endogenous E1 and E2 which often complicate the interpretation of estrogenic biomarker assays.
    • Water Framework Directive: marine ecological tools for reference, intercalibration and classification (METRIC): final report for the ERTDI-funded project: 2005-W-MS-36

      Cusack, C.; O’Beirn, F.X.; King, J.J.; Silke, J.; Keirse, G.; Whyte, B.I.; Leahy, Y.; Noklegaard, T.; McCormack, E.; McDermott, G. (EPA, 2008)
      Water quality monitoring programmes exist in many of the Member States throughout the European Union (EU). With the implementation of the Water Framework Directive (WFD, Council Directive 2000/60/EC) all Member States must harmonise their national monitoring methods for each common metric (parameter indicative of a biological water quality element) used to determine the state of the aquatic environment to ensure consistent and comparable classification results for all biological community quality elements used (WFD Annex V, 1.4.1). The Marine Ecological Tools for Reference, Intercalibrationand Classification (METRIC) project, therefore, was designed specifically to support the Irish role in the EU Intercalibration Exercise of biological quality elements (BQEs) in order to set harmonised ecological quality criteria for the assessment of water quality in the transitional and coastal (TraC) waters of Europe. The BQEs investigated by METRIC included: Plants (phytoplankton, macroalgae andangiosperms), Benthic macroinvertebrates (soft-bottom habitat), Fish (estuarine).