OPAL Water Centre – studying freshwater pollutants

Water Centre gallery

How do pollutants affect freshwater life?

The main focus of the OPAL Water Centre was to learn more about pollution in our lakes and ponds.

The dangers of pollution
Water pollution can seriously damage the health of aquatic plants and animals, and these pollutants can pass right through the food chain.

There is increasing evidence that fish and sediments in UK lakes contain high levels of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and potentially toxic trace metals.

Freshwater species are being affected even in remote locations. The situation may be even worse in urban areas because of pollutants running off from paved areas and roads.

Assessing the problem
Our research aimed to identify the scale of contamination from trace metals (mercury, lead, cadmium, copper, nickel and zinc) and certain POPs in the water, wildlife and sediment of nine ponds and lakes around England.

We have also assessed the impact of these pollutants on the freshwater ecosystem.


Read our final report

Pond lifeDelve beneath the surface of England's lakes with the OPAL Water Centre Monitoring Report 2008-2012, which reveals the results of our four-year studies at lakes across England.

Explore the findings in the report



The OPAL Water Centre was led by University College London.