Journal of Applied Phycology

, Volume 28, Issue 6, pp 3697–3703 | Cite as

Arsenic accumulation in intertidal macroalgae exposed to sewage discharges

  • Joana Cabral-Oliveira
  • Helena Coelho
  • João Pratas
  • Susana Mendes
  • Miguel A. Pardal


Arsenic is a widely distributed element in marine ecosystems. The main anthropogenic sources of this contaminant are domestic and industrial wastewaters, and since it can be harmful to humans even at low concentrations, it has been ranked as one of the top hazardous substances. Therefore, the analysis of arsenic is an essential task to assess the potential environmental and human health risk associated with sewage discharges. The accumulation of total arsenic on intertidal rocky shore macroalgae exposed to contaminated sewage discharges was measured in five macroalgae species (Asparagopsis armata, Codium sp., Plocamium cartilagineum, Saccorhiza polyschides and Ulva sp.). Differences in the concentrations of arsenic were examined in the seawater and in the macroalgae species. The results showed significantly higher concentrations of arsenic near the sewage discharges in all the species except S. polyschides. Although the information obtained from total arsenic determination is not enough to assess the toxicological risk in the environment, this paper gives an important contribution on contamination risks and helps in choosing potential good biomonitors.


Arsenic Sewage Macroalgae Bioindicators Rocky shores 



We wish to thank all the colleagues that helped in the field and laboratory work. This work was supported by FCT (Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia) through a PhD grant attributed to J. Cabral-Oliveira (SFRH/BD/48874/2008) and Susana Mendes (project MARE – UID/MAR/04292/2013), with funds from POPH (Portuguese Operational Human Potential Program), QREN Portugal (Portuguese National Strategic Reference Framework) and MCTES (Portuguese Ministry of Science, Technology, and Higher Education).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joana Cabral-Oliveira
    • 1
  • Helena Coelho
    • 2
    • 3
  • João Pratas
    • 4
    • 5
  • Susana Mendes
    • 1
    • 6
  • Miguel A. Pardal
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Life Sciences, CFE—Centre for Functional EcologyUniversity of CoimbraCoimbraPortugal
  2. 2.Bioinsight – Rua Antero de QuentalOdivelasPortugal
  3. 3.Department of Biology, CESAM—Centre for Environmental and Marine StudiesUniversity of Aveiro, Campus de SantiagoAveiroPortugal
  4. 4.Department of Earth Sciences, MARE UCUniversity of CoimbraCoimbraPortugal
  5. 5.IPG, Institute of Petroleum and Geology, Comoro-ElemloiDíliTimor-Leste
  6. 6.MARE—Marine and Environmental Sciences Centre, ESTMPolytechnic Institute of LeiriaPenichePortugal

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