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Adverse health effect

A change in body function or cell structure that might lead to disease or health problems. (Source: ATSDR Glossary of Terms  )

Algal bloom

The rapid excessive growth of algae, generally caused by high nutrient levels and favourable conditions. Can result in deoxygenation of the water mass when the algae die, leading to the death of aquatic flora and fauna. (Source: Water resources Management Practicum 2000 Biology )


Alien species

An alien species is a species introduced outside its normal distribution.

Invasive alien species are alien species whose establishment and spread modify ecosystems, habitats, or species. (Source: MA  Glossary )



Breeding and rearing of fish, shellfish, or plants in ponds, enclosures, or other forms of confinement in fresh or marine waters for the direct harvest of the product. (Source: MA   Glossary )


The mass of air surrounding the Earth.

The atmosphere consists of nitrogen (78%), oxygen (21%), and traces of other gases such as argon, helium, carbon dioxide, and ozone.

The atmosphere plays an important role in the protection of life on Earth; it absorbs ultraviolet solar radiation and reduces temperature extremes between day and night. (Source: GreenFacts)



Biodiversity is a contraction of biological diversity. Biodiversity reflects the number, variety and variability of living organisms.

It includes diversity within species (genetic diversity), between species (species diversity), and between ecosystems (ecosystem diversity). (Source: GreenFacts)


Body burden

The total amount of a substance in the body. Some substances build up in the body because they are stored in fat or bone or because they leave the body very slowly. (Source: ATSDR Glossary of Terms  )



Cholera is a devastating and, sometimes, lethal disease caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholera.

Cholera usually spreads through contaminated water.

The symptoms are intense vomiting and extreme watery diarrhoea leading to dehydration, which, unless immediately treated, may be fatal.

Cholera can easily be cured by rehydration and administration of salts and electrolytes (Source: WHO, Treatment of Cholera  )



Any of a large group of mostly aquatic animals, including crabs, lobsters, and shrimps, having hard shells, jointed bodies, and antennae. (Source: GreenFacts )



The complex system of plant, animal, fungal, and microorganism communities and their associated non-living environment interacting as an ecological unit.

Ecosystems have no fixed boundaries; instead their parameters are set to the scientific, management, or policy question being examined. Depending upon the purpose of analysis, a single lake, a watershed, or an entire region could be considered an ecosystem. (Source: US EPA Glossary of Climate Change Terms   )


The widespread outbreak of a disease, or a large number of cases of a disease in a single community or relatively small area. (Source: CoRIS Glossary  )

Fish stock

The population or [total mass] of a fishery resource. Such stocks are usually identified by their location. They can be, but are not always, genetically discrete from other stocks. (Source: MA  Glossary )



A particular kind of fishing activity, e.g., a trawl fishery or a particular species targeted, e.g., a cod fishery or salmon fishery. (Source: MA  Glossary )

French National Institute of Health and Medical Research

Founded in 1964, the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research (Inserm) is a public scientific and technological institute which operates under the joint authority of the French Ministry of Health and French Ministry of Research.

As the only French public research institute to focus entirely on human health, in 2008 Inserm took on the responsibility for the strategic, scientific and operational coordination of biomedical research. This key role as coordinator comes naturally to Inserm thanks to the scientific quality of its teams and its ability to conduct translational research, from the laboratory to the patient’s bed. (Source: Inserm  )

Gene expression

The process by which a gene is "turned on" to produce the specific biological molecule encoded by that gene (usually protein or RNA). (Source: GreenFacts )

Immune system

The immune system is a network of cells, tissues, and organs that work together to defend the body against attacks by “foreign” invaders. (Source: NIAID Immune System   )



Inflammation is the reaction of living tissues to infection, irritation or other injury. (Source: GreenFacts)



A site where household and industrial waste can be disposed of. It is generally spread in thin layers which are then covered with soil. (Source: GreenFacts)



A general name for several species of halophyte (plant that grows in soils that have a high content of various salts) belonging to different families of plants (including trees, shrubs, a palm tree and a ground fern) occurring in intertidal zones of tropical and subtropical sheltered coastlines and exceeding one half meter in height.

The term is applied to both the individual and the ecosystem, the latter of which is termed mangal. (Source: CoRIS glossary  )


Oxidative stress

The term “oxidative stress” refers to the presence of excessive levels of highly reactive molecules called free radicals in the cell or a lack of molecules called antioxidants that can eliminate those free radicals. (Source: Charles S. Lieber  Alcohol and Hepatitis C )


Pathogenic organisms

Organisms, including bacteria, viruses or cysts, capable of causing diseases (typhoid, cholera, dysentery) in a host (such as a person). There are many types of organisms which do NOT cause disease. These organisms are called non-pathogenic. (Source: US EPA US EPA Drinking Water Glossary, A Dictionary of Technical and Legal Terms Related to Drinking Water  )



A polymer is a high-molecular-weight organic compound, natural or man-made, consisting of many repeating simpler chemical units or molecules called monomers.

Examples of natural polymers are proteins (polymer of amino acids) and cellulose (polymer of sugar molecules).

An example of synthetic polymer is PVC (a polymer of vinyl chloride). (Source: GreenFacts)


Primary & Secondary pollutant

A primary pollutant is an air pollutant emitted directly from a source.

A secondary pollutant is not directly emitted as such, but forms when other pollutants (primary pollutants) react in the atmosphere.

Examples of a secondary pollutant include ozone, which is formed when hydrocarbons (HC) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) combine in the presence of sunlight; NO2, which is formed as NO combines with oxygen in the air; and acid rain, which is formed when sulfur dioxide or nitrogen oxides react with water. (Source: GreenFacts)


Sewage refers to waste-water from homes and industry which is collected and carried away in sewers (pipes or tunnels). When raw waste-water is cleaned in treatment plants the waste product is sewage sludge, which can be used as a fertiliser under certain conditions or deposited in landfills. (Source: GreenFacts )

Surface water

Water on the surface of the Earth, such as in lakes, rivers, streams, ponds, and springs. (Source: ATSDR Glossary of Terms   )


When the combined effect of several forces operating is greater than the sum of the separate effects of the forces. (Source: Millennium Ecosystem Assessment  Glossary )


The study of the harmful effects of substances on humans or animals. (Source: ATSDR Glossary of Terms  )

Trophic level

A trophic level of an organism is its position in a food chain.

Levels are numbered according to how far particular organisms are along the chain from the primary producers [plants] at level 1, to herbivores (level 2), to predators (level 3), to carnivores or top carnivores (level 4 or 5).

Fish at higher trophic levels are typically of higher economic value. (Source: Millennium Ecosystem Assessment Figure 1.3. Decline in Trophic Level of Fisheries Catch Since 1950 )



An abnormal mass of tissue resulting from uncontrolled and excessive cell division.

Tumours can be either benign (localised, without the invasion of other tissues) or malignant (showing progressive invasion of other tissues). (Source: GreenFacts)

World Health Organization

"The World Health Organization  (WHO) is the directing and coordinating authority on international health within the United Nations’ system. WHO experts produce health guidelines and standards, and help countries to address public health issues. WHO also supports and promotes health research. Through WHO, governments can jointly tackle global health problems and improve people’s well-being.

193 countries and two associate members are WHO’s membership. They meet every year at the World Health Assembly in Geneva to set policy for the Organization, approve the Organization’s budget, and every five years, to appoint the Director-General. Their work is supported by the 34-member Executive Board, which is elected by the Health Assembly. Six regional committees focus on health matters of a regional nature."

WHO's scientific publications are widely recognized as a reference source.

The WHO has a number of regional offices which address the specific issues of those regions.

WHO World Regional Offices
  WHO African Region  (46 countries)
  WHO European Region  (53 countries)
  WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region  (21 countries)
  WHO Region of the Americas  (35 countries)
  WHO South-East Asia Region  (11 countries)
  WHO Western Pacific Region  (27 countries)

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