Occurrence of Natural Contaminants of Emerging Concern in the Douro River Estuary, Portugal

  • Ana Rita Ribeiro
  • Alexandra Maia
  • Mariana Santos
  • Maria Elizabeth Tiritan
  • Cláudia Maria Rosa RibeiroEmail author


Many studies demonstrated the presence of diverse environmental contaminants in the Douro River estuary, such as natural and synthetic estrogens, pharmaceuticals, industrial compounds and pesticides. This estuary is located between two densely populated cities and is highly impacted due to anthropogenic activities, such as industry and agriculture. Although the presence of mycotoxins and phytoestrogens, such as lignans and coumestrans, in the aquatic environment is reported by some authors, their occurrence in Portuguese waters was not investigated yet. To evaluate the presence of phytoestrogens, phytosterols and mycotoxins in Douro River estuary, water samples were collected seasonally at nine sampling points, preconcentrated by solid phase extraction and analysed by gas chromatography mass spectrometry. Local flora was collected on the riverside, in the same sampling points, for identification and evaluation of the possible relation to the presence of phytoestrogens and/or phytosterols in the estuarine water. Results showed the ubiquitous presence of mycotoxins, namely deoxynivalenol up to 373.5 ng L−1. Both phytoestrogens and phytosterols showed a possible seasonal fluctuation, which is in accordance to the life cycle of the local flora and agricultural practices. Physicochemical parameters were also determined for water quality evaluation. This study revealed for the first time the presence of mycotoxins and lignans in estuarine waters from Portugal, and highlights the need to consider natural contaminants in future monitoring programs.


Total Dissolve Solid Isoflavones Phytosterol Trichothecene Equol 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors acknowledge the financial support from CESPU (03-GCQF-CICS-11) and CEQUIMEDPEst-OE/SAU/UI4040/2011 projects. ASM and ARR acknowledge the research grants from Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia (FCT), Portugal (Ref. SFRH/BD/86939/2012 and SFRH/BPD/101703/2014, respectively). ARR acknowledges the partial support from the project NORTE-07-0202-FEDER-038900 (NEPCAT), financed by FEDER through ON2 (Programa Operacional do Norte) and QREN.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ana Rita Ribeiro
    • 1
    • 2
  • Alexandra Maia
    • 1
  • Mariana Santos
    • 1
  • Maria Elizabeth Tiritan
    • 1
    • 3
    • 4
  • Cláudia Maria Rosa Ribeiro
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Instituto de Investigação e Formação Avançada em Ciências e Tecnologias da SaúdeCESPUGandra PRDPortugal
  2. 2.LCM – Laboratory of Catalysis and Materials – Associate Laboratory LSRE–LCM, Faculdade de EngenhariaUniversidade do PortoPortoPortugal
  3. 3.Laboratório de Química Orgânica e Farmacêutica, Departamento de Ciências QuímicasFaculdade de Farmácia da Universidade do PortoPortoPortugal
  4. 4.Centro Interdisciplinar de Investigação Marinha e Ambiental (CIIMAR/CIMAR)Universidade do PortoPortoPortugal

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