, Volume 18, Issue 8, pp 1165–1175 | Cite as

Ecological risk assessment of sediment management areas: application to Sado Estuary, Portugal

  • Sandra CaeiroEmail author
  • Maria Helena Costa
  • Angel DelValls
  • Tiago Repolho
  • Margarida Gonçalves
  • Alice Mosca
  • Ana Paula Coimbra
  • Tomás B. Ramos
  • Marco Painho


The purpose of this work was to integrate different methodologies to assess the potential ecological risk of estuarine sedimentary management areas, using the Sado Estuary in Portugal as case study. To evaluate the environmental risk of sediment contamination, an integrative and innovative approach was used involving assessment of sediment chemistry, sediment toxicity, benthic community structure, human driving forces and pressures and management areas organic load levels. The basis for decision-making for overall assessment was a statistical multivariate analysis appended into a score matrix tables, using a best expert judgment. The integrated approach allowed to identify from the 19 management areas analyzed, three with no risk but other three with high risk to cause adverse effects in the biota, related with the contaminants analyzed. The methodologies used showed to be effective as a support for decision making leading to future estuarine management recommendations.


Sediment quality Ecological risk assessment Ecosystems disturbance Sado estuary Pollution effects 



Sandra Caeiro’s work was partially supported by a PRODEP Program grant. The research was approved by the Portuguese Science and Technology Foundation and POCTI (Research Project POCTI/BSE 35137/99) and financed by FEDER.

Supplementary material

10646_2009_372_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (113 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 112 kb)


  1. American Society for Testing and Material – ASTM (1993) Standard guide for conducting 10–day static sediment toxicity testes with marine and estuarine amphipods. E 1367–92, Vol. 11.04. Annual Book of ASTM Standard, ASTM, Philadelphia, PA, pp 1138–1163Google Scholar
  2. APSS (2003) Porto de Setúbal. Available via Accessed 20 February 2003
  3. Araujo R, Vasconcelos L, Painho M (2002) SADIND-Sistema de Visualizaçăo Interpretativa para a Gestăo Ambiental do Estuário do Sado. Biologia 20:97–107Google Scholar
  4. Burton GA, Batley EG, Chapman PM, Forbes VE, Smith EP, Reynoldson T, Schlekat CE, Besten PJ, Bailer AJ, Green AS, Dwyer RLA (2002a) Weight-of-evidence framework for assessing sediment (or other) contamination: improving certainty in the decision-making process. Hum Ecolo Risk Assess 8:1675–1696CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Burton GA, Chapman PM, Smith EP (2002b) Weight-of-evidence approaches for assessing ecosystem impairment. Hum Ecolo Risk Assess 8:1657–1673CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Caeiro S, Goovaerts P, Painho M, Costa MH (2003a) Delineation of estuarine management areas using multivariate geostatistics: the case of Sado estuary. Environ Sci Technol 37:4052–4059CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Caeiro S, Nunes LM, Goovaerts P, Painho M, Costa MH (2003b) Optimization of sediment estuarine monitoring program using contamination data. In: Proceedings of Fifth International Symposium on GIS and Computer Cartography for Coastal Zone Management. GISIG- Geographical Information System International Group and International Center of Coastal and Ocean Policy Studies. Genova, Italy, pp 1–9Google Scholar
  8. Caeiro S, Mourăo I, Costa MH, Painho M, Ramos TB, Sousa S (2004a) Application of the DPSIR model to the Sado Estuary in a GIS context—social and economical pressures. In: Toppen F, Prastacos P (eds) Proceedings of 7th Conference on Geographic Information Science. Crete University Press. AGILE, Crete, pp 391–402Google Scholar
  9. Caeiro S, Nunes L, Goovaerts P, Costa MH, Cunha MC, Painho M, Ribeiro L (2004b) Optimization of an estuarine monitoring program: selecting the best spatial distribution. In: Soares A, Gomez-Hernandez J, Froidevaux R (eds) GeoENV IV Geostatistical for Environmental Applications. Kluwer Academic Press, Dordrecht, pp 355–366CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Caeiro S, Costa MH, Ramos TB, Fernandes F, Silveira N, Coimbra AP, Medeiros G, Painho M (2005a) Assessing sediment heavy metals contamination in Sado Estuary: a index analysis approach. Ecol Indic 5:151–169CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Caeiro S, Costa MH, Goovaerts P, Martins F (2005b) Benthic biotope index for classifying habitats in the Sado Estuary: Portugal. Mar Environ Res 60(5):570–593CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Cardellicchio N, Buccolieri A, Giandomenico S, Lopez L, Pizzulli F, Spada L (2007) Organic pollutants (PAHs, PCBs) in sediment from the Mar Piccolo in Taranto (Ionian Sea, Southern Italy). Mar Pollut Bull 55:451–458CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Cesar A, Choueri RB, Riba I, Morales-Caselles C, Pereira CDS, Santos AR, Abessa DMS, DelValls TAA (2007) Comparative sediment quality assessment in different littoral ecosystems from Spain (Gulf of Cadiz and Brazil (Santos and São Vicente estuarine system). Environ Int 33:429–435CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Chapman PM, McDonald BG, Lawrence GS (2002) Weight-of-evidence issues and frameworks for sediment quality (and other) assessments (2002). Hum Ecolo Risk Assess 8:1489–1515CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Chapman PM, Wang F, Janssen CR, Goulet RR, Kamunde CN (2003) Conducting ecological risk assessments of inorganic metals and metalloids: current status. Hum Ecolo Risk Assess 9:641–697CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Correia R, Florêncio M (2002) Estudo da Sensibilidade Ambiental do Estuário do Sado face às actividades antropogénicas nele desenvolvidas. Trabalho de Projecto da Licenciatura em Engenharia do Ambiente. Escola Superior de Tecnologia de Setúbal. Instituto Politécnico de Setúbal. Setúbal, PortugalGoogle Scholar
  17. Costa FO, Correia AD, Costa MH (1998) Acute marine sediment toxicity: a potential new test with the Amphipod Gammarus locusta. Ecotoxicol Environ Saf 40:81–87CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Costa PM, Caeiro S, Diniz MS, Lobo J, Martins M, Ferreira AM, Caetano M, Vale C, DelValls TA, Costa MH (in press) Biochemical endpoints on juvenile Solea senegalensis exposed to estuarine sediments: the effect of contaminant mixtures on metallothionein and CYP1A induction. Ecotoxicology. doi: 10.1007/s10646-009-0373-7
  19. Donze M, Nieuwendijk C, Boxtel A, Quaak M (1990) Shaping the Environment: Aquatic Pollution and Dredging in the European Community. Delwel Publishers Hague, The NetherlandsGoogle Scholar
  20. Grapentine L, Anderson J, Boyd D, Burton A, DeBarros C, Johnson G, Marvin C, Milani D, Painter S, Pascoe T, Reynoldson T, Richman L, Solomon K, Chapman PM (2002) A decision making framework for sediment assessment developed for the great lakes. Hum Ecolo Risk Assess 8:1641–1655CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Laws EA (1993) Aquatic Pollution. Wiley, USAGoogle Scholar
  22. Long ER, Chapman PM (1985) A sediment quality triad: measures of sediment contamination, toxicity and infaunal community composition in puget sound. Mar Pollut Bull 16:405–415CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Long ER, MacDonald DD (1998) Recommended uses of empirically derived, sediment quality guidelines for marine and estuarine ecosystems. Hum Ecolo Risk Assess 4:1019–1039CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Macdonald D, Carr S, Clader FD, Long ED, Ingersoll CG (1996) Development and evaluation of sediment quality guidelines for Florida coastal waters. Ecotoxicology 5:253–278CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. MacDonald DD, Lindskoog RA, Smorong DE, Greening H, Pribble R, Janicki T, Janicki S, Grabe S, Sloane G, Ingersoll CG, Eckenrod S, Long ER (2000) Development of an Ecosystem-Based Framework for Assessing and Managing Sediment Quality Conditions in Tampa Bay. Florida. Tampa Bay Estuary Program, FloridaGoogle Scholar
  26. Neves RJJ (1985) Biodimensional model for residual circulation in coastal zones: application to the Sado Estuary. Ann Geophys 3:465–472Google Scholar
  27. Nipper M (2000) Current approaches and future direction for contaminant-related impact assessment in coastal environments: Brazilian perspective. Aquat Ecosyst Health Manag 3:433–447CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Nowell LH, Capel PD, Dileanis PD (1999) Pesticides in Stream Sediments and Aquatic Biota - Distribution, Trends and Governing Factors. CRC Press, Boca Raton Pesticides in the Hydrological System seriesGoogle Scholar
  29. Pekey H, Karakas D, Ayberk S, Tolun L, Bakoglu M (2004) Ecological risk assessment using trace elements from surface sediments of Izmit Bay (Northeastern Marmara Sea) Turkey. Mar Pollut Bull 48(9–10):946–953CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Pereira TPM (2003) Impacte da Utilização de Pesticidas em Ecossistemas Orizícolas sobre a Qualidade de Águas superficiais. Doctoral Thesis. Universidade Técnicas de Lisboa. Instituto Superior de Agronomia, LisbonGoogle Scholar
  31. Quevauviller P, Lavigne R, Cortez L (1989) Impact of industrial and mine drainage wastes on the heavy metal distribution in the drainage basin and Estuary of the Sado River (Portugal). Environ Pollut 59:267–286CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Riba I, Forja J, Gómez-Parra A, DelValls A (2004) Sediment quality in littoral regions of the Gulf of Cádiz: a triad approach to address the influence of mining activities. Environ Pollut 132:341–353CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Rolland G, Guedes L, Quintino V (1999) Comparative toxicity of experimental effluent eucalyptus pulp kraft bleaching. Ecotoxicol Environ Restor 2:19–25Google Scholar
  34. RIVM (1995) General Strategy for Integrated Environmental Assessment at the European Environmental Agency. The Netherlands National Institute of Public Health and Environmental Protection, BilthovenGoogle Scholar
  35. Turner A, Martino M, Roux SM (2002) Trace metals distribution coefficients in the Mersey Estuary, UK: evidence for salting out of metals complexes. Environ Sci Technol 36:4578–4584CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Wenning RJ, Batley GE, Ingersoll CG, Moore DW (eds) (2005) Use of sediment quality guidelines and related tools for the assessment of contaminated sediments. SETAC Press, USAGoogle Scholar
  37. Zhang L, Xin Y, Feng H, Jing Y, Ouyang T, Xingtian Y, Liang R, Gao C, Chen W (2007) Heavy metal contamination in western Xiamen Bay sediments and its vicinity, China. Mar Pollut Bull 54:974–982CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sandra Caeiro
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Maria Helena Costa
    • 2
  • Angel DelValls
    • 3
  • Tiago Repolho
    • 4
  • Margarida Gonçalves
    • 5
  • Alice Mosca
    • 6
  • Ana Paula Coimbra
    • 7
  • Tomás B. Ramos
    • 8
  • Marco Painho
    • 9
  1. 1.Department of Science and TechnologyPortuguese Distance Learning UniversityLisbonPortugal
  2. 2.IMAR, Instituto do Mar, Faculty of Science and TechnologyNew University of LisbonCaparicaPortugal
  3. 3.Faculty of Environmental and Sea SciencesCadiz UniversityPuerto Real, CadizSpain
  4. 4.Laboratório Marítimo da GuiaCentro de Oceanografia-FCULCascaisPortugal
  5. 5.GDEH, Faculty of Science and TechnologyNew University of LisbonCaparicaPortugal
  6. 6.SPECANALITICA, Equipamentos Científicos Lda.CarcavelosPortugal
  7. 7.Laboratory of Chemical, Physical and Biological AnalysisCONTROLABPóvoa de Santa IriaPortugal
  8. 8.CENSE, Department of Sciences and Environmental Engineering, Faculty of Science and TechnologyNew University of LisbonCaparicaPortugal
  9. 9.ISEGI/CEGI, Institute for Statistics and Information ManagementNew University of LisbonLisbonPortugal

Personalised recommendations