Water, Air, and Soil Pollution

, Volume 189, Issue 1–4, pp 163–177 | Cite as

Complementary Approaches to Assess the Environmental Quality of Estuarine Sediments

  • Nuria FernándezEmail author
  • Juan Bellas
  • José Ignacio Lorenzo
  • Ricardo Beiras


An assessment of the environmental quality of sediments at several locations of the Ría de Pontevedra (NW of Spain) was performed by integrating toxicity data obtained from multiespecies bioassays, chemical data from analysis of mussels and sediment, and physical–chemical parameters of the sampled sites. Subsequently, a toxicity identification evaluation (TIE) method intended for characterization and identification of the toxic agents was applied to the most polluted location by using the Paracentrotus lividus sea urchin bioassay. Both metals and organic compounds seem to be the causative agents of toxicity in elutriates of the studied sediment. Finally, multivariate statistics were applied for a better interpretation of results. A factor analysis was developed to establish the relationship among variables and to derive local sediment quality guidelines (SQG) by linking chemical contamination to biological effects. When multidimensional scaling and cluster analysis were performed to group the locations according to either the chemistry or toxicity data, P3-site was always clearly broken up the others. The different approaches all supported the same conclusion: site P3 can be considered highly contaminated by both trace metals and PAHs resulting in high toxicity for all the tested species.


Bioaccumulation Estuary Metal PAH Sediment quality TIE Toxicity Paracentrotus lividus Mytilus galloprovincialis Ciona intestinalis 



The authors would like to express their thanks to CACTI (Centro de Apoio Científico Tecnolóxico á Investigación – Universidade de Vigo–Spain) and IEO (Instituto Español de Oceanografía) for their help in the chemical analyses. This work was funded by the Spanish “Comisión Interministerial de Ciencia y Tecnología” through grant AMB99-0946 and REN2000-0498MAR.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nuria Fernández
    • 1
    Email author
  • Juan Bellas
    • 2
  • José Ignacio Lorenzo
    • 2
  • Ricardo Beiras
    • 2
  1. 1.Departamento de Bioloxía celular e EcoloxíaUniversidade de Santiago de CompostelaCompostelaSpain
  2. 2.Departamento de Ecoloxía e Bioloxía AnimalUniversidade de VigoVigoSpain

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