Toxicological relevance of endocrine disruptors in the Tagus River estuary (Lisbon, Portugal)

  • Maria João Rocha
  • Catarina Cruzeiro
  • Mário Reis
  • Miguel Ângelo Pardal
  • Eduardo Rocha


The Tagus is the longest Iberian river, notwithstanding, the levels of natural and xenoestrogenic endocrine-disrupting compounds (EDCs) were never measured in its estuary. Suspecting for their presence, we made a major survey of 17 EDCs that include: (i) natural (17β-oestradiol and estrone) and pharmaceutical oestrogens (17α-ethynylestradiol); (ii) industrial and household pollutants (octylphenols, nonylphenols and their mono and diethoxylates, and bisphenol A); (iii) phytoestrogens (biochanin A, daidzein, formononetin, genistein); and (iv) the phytosterol (sitosterol). Water samples from the Tagus estuary were taken from nine locations every 2 months over a 1-year period and analysed by gas chromatography. Oestrogens, industrial/household pollutants were consistently higher at two sites—at Tagus River mouth and close to the Trancão tributary, both at Lisbon region. The overall oestrogenic load, in ethynylestradiol equivalents, was 13 ng/L for oestrogens, 2.3 ng/L for industrial/household pollutants and 43 ng/L for phytoestrogens; well in the range of toxicological significance. Water physicochemical parameters also indicated anthropogenic pollution, mainly at the two above-referred sampling sites.


Oestrogens Alkylphenols Alkylphenol ethoxylates Phytoestrogens Sitosterol 



This research study was partially supported by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), through the COMPETE—Operational Competitiveness Programme, and by national funds, through the Portuguese agency Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT), under the projects PTDC/MAR/70436/2006 and PEst-C/MAR/LA0015/2013.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maria João Rocha
    • 1
    • 2
  • Catarina Cruzeiro
    • 1
  • Mário Reis
    • 3
  • Miguel Ângelo Pardal
    • 3
  • Eduardo Rocha
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Laboratory of Cellular, Molecular and Analytical Studies, Interdisciplinary Centre for Marine and Environmental Research (CIIMAR), CIMAR Associate Laboratory (CIMAR LA)University of Porto (UPorto)PortoPortugal
  2. 2.Laboratory of Histology and EmbryologyInstitute of Biomedical Sciences Abel Salazar (ICBAS), UPortoPortoPortugal
  3. 3.CFE - Centre for Functional Ecology, Department of Life SciencesUniversity of CoimbraCoimbraPortugal

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