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In 2010, research was performed on contaminants in the fauna in the sea of Reydarfjordur. 16 PAH materials were defined and heavy metals in mussels, bristleworms (Polychaeta) and (leirpípur). The samples were taken from predefined sampling spots and the outcome of chemical analysis compared to the Marine Research Institute's baseline study from 2000. Click here to see the report (only available in Icelandic.

The results showed no significant increase of PAH or heavy metals, and the limits were everywhere under the minimum limit of Icelandic Act No. 265/2010 on the adoption of the Commission Regulation (EC) No 1881/2006 of 19 December 2006 setting maximum levels for certain contaminants in foodstuffs.

The operation of Alcoa Fjardaál does not seem to have significant effects on the increase of PAH materials or heavy metals in the benthic fauna of Reydarfjördur.

The measurements were repeated in 2015.

Report from East Iceland Nature Research Center and Innovation Center Iceland from the year 2015. Only in Icelandic.

Metrics, Targets and Monitoring Protocol

What is measured?

Concentration of PAH (µg/g) and heavy metals (ppm) in molluscs at established survey points in Reydarfjordur Fjord near smelter. (Project effect: indirect).

Monitoring protocol

Grab samples of the benthic community (including molluscs) will be collected at designated sample locations and analyzed for concentrations of PAH-16 every five years.


Target to be based on baseline studies.


Alcoa has an environmental policy that is set to respect the environment. Laws and regulations also set the framework in which the company operates.

See more:
Alcoa and the environment

Changes of indicator

This indicator was originally number 22.1. It was then named Contaminant Levels in Mollusesand can be found under that number in documents of the project from 2005 and 2006.

The indicator number has been changed twice.

Table 1. Changes to name and number of indicator
Year Nr. Indicator name
2020 2.4.1 Contaminant Levels in Marine Organisms
2007 2.24 Contaminant Levels in Marine Organisms


Rannsóknir á straumum, umhverfisþáttum og lífríki sjávar í Reyðarfirði frá júlí til október 2000Information on the baseline situation is available in the MRI's (Marine Research Institute Iceland) report from the year 2000.

Click here to get the report (Icelandic Only)

Rationale for Indicator Selection

Iceland's marine ecosystem is unique and bountiful. Aluminum smelting operations require wastewater discharges into the Icelandic waterways that could indirectly affect aquatic fauna through changes in water chemistry. East Iceland's economy is heavily dependent upon aquatic fauna (i.e., fishing) and adverse changes to the aquatic communities could be economically damaging to the region.

From phase I/II report on indicators and baseline from April 2005

Further reading

Botndýr og kræklingar

Botndýr og kræklingar

Markmið rannsóknarinnar er að meta hugsanleg mengunaráhrif álvers Alcoa Fjarðaáls á lífríki sjávar í Reyðarfirði. Grunnaástand á PAH-16 efnum var kannað árið 2000 í kræklingi og burstaormum (Hafsteinn G. Guðfinnsson o.fl., 2001) og endurtekið árið 2010, auk þess voru þungmálmar mældir það ár (HRV, 2010). Hér verður greint frá niðurstöðum vöktunarmælinga á sýnum frá 2015 og niðurstöður bornar saman við fyrri mælingar.

Report of the Marine Research Institute for Reyðarál 2000. Research on currents, environmental factors and marine life in Reyðarfjörður from July-October in 2000.

Open Report (Icelandic only)