European Commission, Joint Research Centre (JRC)

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

Mercury is an ubiquitous pollutant in the environment, being found even in remotest regions of the earth. The JRC has released a new Certified Reference Material, supporting the reliable monitoring of mercury concentrations in fish.

Pollution of watercourses is a concern throughout Europe. European legislation therefore requires Member States to monitor and report on their condition (Directive 2000/60/EC).  Legislation specifies environmental quality standards (EQS) which are set, based on the levels of contaminants in different compartments of the ecosystem (Directive 2013/39/EU). 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.

For mercury, the design and validation of methods to measure these EQS might present a challenge for laboratories. 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.

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 chemical behaviour same as fresh fish samples, thus improving 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 our online catalogue.