​​​​​​​Key message

This core indicator evaluates the status of the marine environment based on concentrations of hexabromocyclododecane (HBCDD) in Baltic Sea fish. Good status is achieved when the concentrations of HBCDD are below the threshold value. The current evaluation is based on data up to 2015 to evaluate the assessment period 2011-201​​​5.


Key message figure 1.png 

Key message figure 1: Status assessment results based on evaluation of the indicator 'hexabromocyclododecane (HBCDD)'. The assessment is carried out using Scale 4 HELCOM assessment units (defined in the HELCOM Monitoring and Assessment Strategy Annex 4), based on data from stations where 3 or more years of data are available. Click to enlarge.​


Good status is achieved for all assessed areas since the concentrations of HBCDD in fish are below the threshold value in all monitored areas. However, there are areas where data are absent and thus extended monitoring is required to enable a status evaluation in the entire Baltic Sea.

Time series of HBCDD levels in biota show increasing concentrations since 1980s in Baltic Proper and Bothnian Sea. However, since 2000s no increases are observed and decreasing HBCDD concentrations are seen in fish from the west coast and southern coast of Sweden since late 1990s.

Confidence of the indicator evaluation results is considered to be high. It should also be noted, however, that the majority of the stations are selected as reference stations while potential local problems with HBCDD may occur in areas not included in the current monitoring programmes.

The indicator is applicable in the waters of all the countries bordering the Baltic Sea.


Relevance of the core indicator

HBCDD is a persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic compound with possible impacts on the reproductive and developmental system. The main use of HBCDD is in insulation material in the building industry or as coating of textiles to improve the fire resistance of the materials. The presence of HBCDD in biological samples gives information of the contaminant load of the Baltic Sea and reflects the bioavailable part of the contaminant. The species selected for monitoring acts as an exposure route via food to (top) predators and humans.


Policy relevance of the core indicator

 ​BSAP segment and objectives​MSFD descriptors and criteria

Primary link


Hazardous substances

  • Concentrations of hazardous substances close to n​atural levels

D8 Concentrations of contaminants

D8C1 Within coastal and territorial andbeyond territorial waters, the concentration of contaminants do not exceed the threshold values.

Secondary link
Hazardous substances
  • Fish safe to eat
D9 Conta​minants in fish and seafood
D9C1 The level of contaminants in edible tissues (muscle, liver, roe, flesh or other soft parts, as appropriate) of seafood (including fish, crustaceans, molluscs, echinoderms, seaweed and other marine plants) caught or harvested in the wild (excluding fin-fish from mariculture) does not exceed the threshold values.
Other relevant legislation: The Water Framework Directive and EC regulation No 850/2004 (and its following amendments) and the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants.

Cite this indicator

HELCOM (2017) Hexabromocyclododecane (HBCDD). HELCOM Core Indicator Report. Online. [Date Viewed], [Web link]. 

ISSN: 2343-2543


Download full indicator report

HOLAS II component - core indicator report – web-based version July 2017 (pdf)