Emerging and Traditional Organic Markers in Areas with Multiple Anthropogenic Activities: Development of an Analytical Protocol and Its Application in Environmental Assessment Studies

  • Pollyana C. V. de Morais
  • Allyne F. Gama
  • Gabrielle M. Fernandes
  • Andre H. B. Oliveira
  • Marcielly F. B. Lima
  • Felipe R. dos Santos
  • Davi A. Martins
  • Ronaldo F. Nascimento
  • Rivelino M. Cavalcante


This work describes the development of an analytical protocol combining cleanup by liquid–solid extraction and GC–MS for the determination of emerging and traditional multi-molecular markers. The procedure was used for the environmental assessment of a coastal region with multiple human activities. Global recovery rates ranged from 45.49% to 119.4% for the 46 substances analyzed: pesticides (73.7%–97.7%), PAHs (52.5%–93.7%), sterols (66.7%–119.4%) and natural and synthetic hormones (45.5%–119.1%) and the rates were compared to those reported in studies on both individual classes and multi-classes of contaminants. The analytical protocol demonstrated satisfactory efficiency and could be used successfully in environmental assessments and source assignment studies. The environmental assessment study revealed that the Acaraú River in northeastern Brazil is influenced by the combination of urban and rural activities. The sources of PAHs are vehicular traffic and the burning of biomass; pesticides stem from pest control in agribusiness and public health campaigns; sterols and hormones stem from a combination of natural inputs, human sewage (treated and raw) and animal husbandry activities.


Emerging contaminants Sediment quality Anthropogenic markers Source indicator 



The authors are grateful to the Brazilian fostering agency CNPq (process numbers: 484171/2010-0 and 480583/2012-9) and FUNCAP (process number: 150.01.00/09) for the resources made available to the project Pesticides in the Semiarid Region of Ceará. The authors also thank Prof. Dr. Kamila Vieira for the statistical treatment of the data and the Laboratório de Oceanografia Geológica (LOG/Labomar). Special thanks go to Dr. K. Legg for his experience, friendship and contagious joy.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 88 KB)


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pollyana C. V. de Morais
    • 1
  • Allyne F. Gama
    • 1
  • Gabrielle M. Fernandes
    • 1
  • Andre H. B. Oliveira
    • 1
  • Marcielly F. B. Lima
    • 1
  • Felipe R. dos Santos
    • 1
  • Davi A. Martins
    • 1
  • Ronaldo F. Nascimento
    • 2
  • Rivelino M. Cavalcante
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratory for Assessment of Organic Contaminants (LACOr)Institute of Marine Sciences-Federal University of Ceará (LABOMAR-UFC)FortalezaBrazil
  2. 2.Laboratory of Traces Analysis (LAT) – Department of ChemistryFederal University of CearáFortalezaBrazil

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