From: Reuters
Published November 22, 2007 11:48 AM

WW2 bombs may have contaminated Baltic fish

BERLIN (Reuters) - Some fish in the Baltic Sea may have been contaminated by World War Two explosives containing arsenic, a German researcher whose team is investigating whether the fish are dangerous for consumption said on Thursday.

Kiel University researchers said they have found arsenic levels 10 times higher than normal in the fish found off the northern coast of Germany near Kiel. Low levels of arsenic naturally occur in the sea, he said.

"We are trying to find out how toxic this arsenic we have found in the fish is to humans," said Hermann Kruse, who is supervising the study, which will be published next year.

"We want to know, how long does the arsenic stay in the fish's body, how exactly does it bind to the fish?"

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Researchers found 50 milligrams of arsenic per kilogram of fish, higher than the usual 5 milligrams occurring naturally.

"When we found these levels in whole batches of fish, we knew that we hadn't made a mistake," Kruse said.

"The risk for human health comes from inorganically formed arsenic ... which may have come from the war explosives at the bottom of the sea." Kruse added the high levels could also be down to natural causes.

Marine experts estimate there are hundreds of thousands of tons of explosives left over from World War Two lying at the bottom of the North and Baltic Seas.

(Reporting by Sylvia Westall; editing by Elizabeth Piper)

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