Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology

, Volume 48, Issue 2, pp 233-241

First online:

Bioaccumulation and Toxicity of Dissolved Heavy Metals from the Guadalquivir Estuary After the Aznalcóllar Mining Spill Using Ruditapes philippinarum

  • M. Laura Martín-DíazAffiliated withDepartamento de Química Física, Facultad de Cc. del Mar y Ambientales
  • , Julián BlascoAffiliated withInstituto de Cc. Marinas de Andalucía
  • , Marisa González de  CanalesAffiliated withDepartamento de Biología Animal y Fisiología, Facultad de Cc. del Mar y Ambientales
  • , Diego SalesAffiliated withDpto. Ingeniería Química, Tecnología de los Alimentos y Tecnología del Medio Ambiente, Facultad de Cc. Del Mar y Ambientales
  • , T. Ángel DelVallsAffiliated withDepartamento de Química Física, Facultad de Cc. del Mar y Ambientales Email author 

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The shore clam Ruditapes philippinarum was used as a biomonitoring organism to measure the potential impact that the mining spill in the Guadalquivir Estuary (SW, Spain) in 1998 may have exerted on local biota. Individuals were exposed to dissolved cadmium, copper, and zinc at concentrations found in local waters after the spill (3 μg · L−1 Cd, 15 μg · L−1 Cu, 700 μg · L−1 Zn) at two salinity values: 10 and 35. Residues of metals were measured in gill and digestive gland, together with metallothioneins in the digestive gland and histopathological lesions in gill, digestive gland, and gonad tissues over time. Heavy metals Zn and Cd associated with the mining spill, were bioaccumulated in clam tissues, associated with the activation of metallothioneins, and related to the histopathological lesions measured at all the clam tissues. The heavy metal Cu not related to the spill was not directly associated with effects measured. The bioaccumulation and adverse effects associated with Cd and Zn were significantly higher at low salinity (10) than at high salinity (35) values.