The Barents Sea environment is to a large extent a clean. Monitoring results indicate generally low levels of contaminants, with some exceptions. The levels of most heavy metals are low, with the exception of Ni and As in sediments. Levels of atmospheric input of heavy metals into the area are decreasing for some metals, but increasing for others.
For most of the monitored substances in the Barents Sea the levels of contamination are well below the limit values for human consumption. The concentration of heavy metals and POPs is generally lower in the Arctic environment than in temperate regions but in the last few years there is a tendency for an increase in concentration in air for some POPs like HCB and PAH. Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) that accumulate in organisms at the top of the food chain are of special concern. Another matter of concern is distribution and contents of radioactive substances in the marine environment which may pose major risks to the whole ecosystem.
This chapter represent some of the monitoring results from the area.
The status of contaminants in the Barents Sea is based on current knowledge. There is a lack of long time trends for many of the components (see Table 3.3.3) and there are also areas were knowledge is limited.