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In Elementary we want to find out whether rare earth elements are emerging contaminants of concern in the marine environment in Norway.

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The 15 lanthanoid elements together with scandium and yttrium form the group of rare earth elements (REE). 

All REEs are technology critical elements and are used in a wide range of applications including batteries, light source components, fuel additives, fertilizers and medical contrast agents. This causes a rapidly rising production and use of REEs, leading to their release into the environment. However, to date, literally nothing is known about REE concentrations in Norwegian marine environments and their potential effects on marine species.

In this project we thus aim to study concentrations of anthropogenically released REEs in coastal environments at potential release hot-spots and their accumulation in exposed organisms. Further, we will use environmentally and commercially important fish species, including sensitive early life stages, to study potential effects of REEs.

The results of this project should provide better insight on the potential environmental risk related to REE discharge, recommend a set of bioindicator species for REE exposure and provide basic knowledge for further (monitoring) studies, regulatory authorities and stakeholders.


  • SINTEF Ocean (coordinator)
  • Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway
  • Nord University, Bodø, Norway
  • Jacobs University Bremen, Bremen, Germany
  • Århus University, Denmark

Key Factors

Project duration

2020 - 2023

Budget: 11 865 kNOK
The project is financed by the Norwegian Research Council