Human health risk assessment in relation to environmental pollution of two artificial freshwater lakes in The Netherlands.

H.J. Albering*, J.P. Rila, E.J.C. Moonen, J.A. Hoogewerff, J.C.S. Kleinjans

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Department of Health Risk Analysis and Toxicology, Maastricht University, Maastricht, The Netherlands.

A human health risk assessment has been performed in relation to recreational activities on two artificial freshwater lakes along the river Meuse in The Netherlands. Although the discharges of contaminants into the river Meuse have been reduced in the last decades, which is reflected in decreasing concentrations of pollutants in surface water and suspended matter, the levels in sediments are more persistent. Sediments of the two freshwater lakes appear highly polluted and may pose a health risk in relation to recreational activities. To quantify health risks for carcinogenic (e.g., polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) as well as noncarcinogenic compounds (e.g., heavy metals), an exposure assessment model was used. First, we used a standard model that solely uses data on sediment pollution as the input parameter, which is the standard procedure in sediment quality assessments in The Netherlands. The highest intake appeared to be associated with the consumption of contaminated fish and resulted in a health risk for Pb and Zn (hazard index exceeded 1). For the other heavy metals and for benzo(a)pyrene, the total averaged exposure levels were below levels of concern. Secondly, input data for a more location-specific calculation procedure were provided via analyses of samples from sediment, surface water, and suspended matter. When these data (concentrations in surface water) were taken into account, the risk due to consumption of contaminated fish decreased by more than two orders of magnitude and appeared to be negligible. In both exposure assessments, many assumptions were made that contribute to a major degree to the uncertainty of this risk assessment. However, this health risk evaluation is useful as a screening methodology for assessing the urgency of sediment remediation actions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-35
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental Health Perspectives
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1999


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