, Volume 15, Issue 7, pp 593–599 | Cite as

Toxicological characterisation of the aqueous soluble phase of the Prestige fuel-oil using the sea-urchin embryo bioassay

  • Nuria FernándezEmail author
  • Augusto Cesar
  • Maria José Salamanca
  • Tomás Ángel DelValls


The soluble components of fuel oil are generally assumed to be the fraction that is toxic for organisms living in the water column. We have used a liquid phase bioassay with embryos of sea urchin to assess the toxicity of the water-soluble fraction (elutriate) of the fuel oil spilled when the tanker Prestige sank on 13 November 2002. Two methodologies to obtain elutriates were carried out in order to compare the effect of the extraction method on the measured toxicity. Analyses of Σ16PAHs (naphthalene, acenaphtylene, acenaphthene, fluorene, phenanthrene, anthracene, fluoranthene, pyrene, benz(a)anthracene, chrysene, benzo(b)fluoranthene, benzo(k)fluoranthene, Indeno(1,2,3-c-d)pyrene, benzo(a)pyrene, dibenz(a,h)anthracene and benzo(ghi)perylene) and four metals (copper, cadmium, lead and zinc) were conducted and linked to the biological response. The effective concentration that provoked a delay in the successful embryogenesis of 50% of population (EC50) was 2.3% of fuel oil. No differences in final toxicity between the two elutriation treatments were found, although the rotated extraction seemed to be more effective than magnetic stirring in transferring contaminants from the fuel oil to the water. Toxicity was mainly associated with the low-weight PAHs (2–4 benzene rings).


PAHs Metals Elutriation Paracentrotus lividus Larvae 



The authors express their thanks to CIS, S.L. (Santiago de Compostela-Spain) for help in the field sampling and chemical analyses. The fuel oil was provided by OTVM (Universidade de Vigo). This work was funded by the Spanish “Ministerio de Educación y Ciencia” through grant VEM2003-20563/INTER.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nuria Fernández
    • 1
    Email author
  • Augusto Cesar
    • 2
  • Maria José Salamanca
    • 1
  • Tomás Ángel DelValls
    • 1
  1. 1.Cátedra UNESCO/UNITWIN-Wicop, Facultad de Ciencias del Mar y AmbientalesUniversidad de CádizPuerto Real (Cádiz)Spain
  2. 2.Laboratório de EcotoxicologiaRua Osvaldo CruzSantosBrasil

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