Posted: 21 August 2000

The retention of non-biodegradable chemicals, or those that decay only slowly, in the bodies of organisms. Toxic metals such as lead (Pb) and mercury (Hg) and pesticides such as DDT are absorbed more rapidly than they are excreted and therefore accumulate in the body. Accumulation often takes place in specific locations, including bones, fatty tissues and organs, such as liver and kidney. The impact of bioaccumulation varies with the chemical and the organism involved, but it can cause death, prevent reproduction or increase susceptibility to disease.