Spatially valid data of atmospheric deposition of heavy metals and nitrogen derived by moss surveys for pollution risk assessments of ecosystems.
The variability of mercury (Hg) levels in Swedish freshwater fish during almost 50 years was assessed based on a compilation of 44 927 observations from 2881 waters. To obtain comparable values, individual Hg concentrations of fish from any species and of any size were normalized to correspond to a standard 1-kg pike [median: 0.69 mg kg⁻¹ wet weight (ww), mean ± SD: 0.84 ± 0.67 mg kg⁻¹ ww]. The EU Environmental Quality Standard of 0.02 mg kg⁻¹ was exceeded in all waters, while the guideline set by FAO/WHO for Hg levels in fish used for human consumption (0.5-1.0 mg kg⁻¹) was exceeded in 52.5 % of Swedish waters after 2000. Different trend analysis approaches indicated an overall long-term decline of at least 20 % during 1965-2012 but trends did not follow any consistent regional pattern. During the latest decade (2003-2012), however, a spatial gradient has emerged with decreasing trends predominating in southwestern Sweden.