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Are REE emerging contaminants in the Norwegian marine environment? An insight to the ELEMENTARY project


Rare earth elements (REE) comprise a total of 17 elements: the 15 lanthanides, scandium and yttrium. Despite their name, they are abundant in the earth`s crust. Due to their unique physical-chemical properties, REE are essential for a wide range of human applications including new and traditional industries (e.g. agriculture, renewal energies, automotive, metallurgy, nuclear, textiles) and medical diagnostic. Rising REE production leads to an increased release into the environment and represents a potential environmental concern. Current knowledge on anthropogenic REE contamination, potential hot-spots in coastal areas and their consequences at organismal and ecosystem levels are scarce, and no relevant data are available for the Norwegian coastal environment. The aims of the project are to investigate i) whether coastal anthropogenic activities causes REE contamination ii) which REE are most widely released and measuring the associated environmental levels and distribution patterns; iii) whether REE (anthropogenic and geogenic) are taken up and biologically affect key marine organisms. To determine potential hot-spots of anthropogenically released REE and their uptake, bioavailability and potential accumulation, seawater, sediments and a range of marine organisms (macroalgae, benthic invertebrates and fish) with different ecology and/or feeding modes are sampled at different stations with different degrees of anthropogenic pressure in Trondheim`s fjord. Samples are analysed with ICP-MS to obtain concentrations and quantities of geogenic and anthropogenic REE levels. Furthermore, specific embryotoxicity tests are carried out using zebrafish (Danio rerio) as a model organism. Observations of acute toxicity, hatching and mortality are monitored. In addition, biometric and gene-expression analyses will be performed. Results obtained from this project are expected to provide knowledge on the spatial distribution patterns of REE in Norwegian coastal areas, as well as on potential biological and ecological risk associated to anthropogenically released REE. Such knowledge is essential for future regulatory frameworks.


Academic lecture


  • Research Council of Norway (RCN) / 301236





  • Unknown
  • Norwegian University of Science and Technology
  • SINTEF Ocean / Climate and Environment
  • SINTEF Ocean / Fisheries and New Biomarine Industry
  • Nord University

Presented at

Norwegian Environmental Toxicology Symposium




04.11.2020 - 05.11.2020


University of Bergen



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