Pollution by endocrine disruptors in a southwest European temperate coastal lagoon (Ria de Aveiro, Portugal)

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


Ria de Aveiro is a Portuguese lagoon renowned for its ecological and economic importance. Nonetheless, in literature, few data exist about its organic pollution. Accordingly, this study chemically monitored for the first time a series of 17 endocrine disruptor compounds (EDCs). The target EDCs include natural (17β-oestradiol, oestrone) and pharmaceutical (17α-ethynylestradiol) oestrogens, industrial/household xenoestrogenic pollutants (octylphenols, nonylphenols and their mono and diethoxylates and bisphenol A), phytoestrogens (formononetin, biochanin A, daidzein, genistein) and the phytosterol sitosterol (SITO). For the investigation of these EDCs, water samples were taken from eight sampling sites widely spread along the lagoon, at three different occasions in 2011, and analysed by gas chromatography–mass spectrometry. Results not only proved the ubiquitous distribution of all analysed EDCs but revealed that their amounts were extremely high at all sampling sites. The annual average concentrations were ≈46 ng/L for oestrogens, ≈3962 ng/L for industrial/household chemicals, ≈1740 ng/L for phytoestrogens and ≈908 ng/L for SITO. Normalising these values in ethynylestradiol equivalents (EE2eq), the oestrogenic load in this lagoon attained ≈50 ng/L EE2eq, which is a value well above that known to produce oestrogenic-induced disorders in aquatic fauna. Additionally, phosphate concentrations were also above the legal limits (>1 mg/L). Overall, data show EDCs at toxic relevant levels in the Ria de Aveiro and stress the need to enforce depollution measures in this habitat.


Oestrogens Alkylphenols Alkylphenol ethoxylates Phytoestrogens Sitosterol 



This study was supported by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), through the Operational Competitiveness Program (COMPETE), and by Portuguese funds, through the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT), via projects PTDC/MAR/70436/2006 and PEst-C/MAR/LA0015/ 2013. The research was additionally partially supported by the Strategic Funding UID/Multi/04423/2013, through national funds provided by FCT and ERDF, in the framework of the program PT2020.

Supplementary material

10661_2016_5114_MOESM1_ESM.docx (24 kb)
ESM 1 Table A – Figures referring to the SPE extraction protocol (Rocha et al. 2013a). (DOCX 23 kb)
10661_2016_5114_MOESM2_ESM.docx (18 kb)
ESM 2 Table B – Figures referring to the GC-MS quantification method (Rocha et al. 2013a). (DOCX 17 kb)
10661_2016_5114_MOESM3_ESM.xlsx (25 kb)
ESM 3 Table C – Individual concentrations of all assayed EDCs per sampling site and day of collection. (XLSX 25 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maria João Rocha
    • 1
    • 2
  • Catarina Cruzeiro
    • 1
    • 2
  • Mário Reis
    • 3
  • Miguel Ângelo Pardal
    • 3
  • Eduardo Rocha
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Histomorphology, Physiopathology and Applied Toxicology Group, Interdisciplinary Centre of Marine and Environmental Research (CIIMAR)University of Porto (UPorto)PortoPortugal
  2. 2.Laboratory of Histology and Embryology, Department of Microscopy, Institute of Biomedical Sciences Abel Salazar (ICBAS)UPortoPortoPortugal
  3. 3.CFE—Centre for Functional Ecology, Department of Life SciencesUniversity of CoimbraCoimbraPortugal

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