Regional Environmental Change

, Volume 4, Issue 1, pp 17–27 | Cite as

Environmental changes in Sepetiba Bay, SE Brazil

  • M. M. Molisani
  • R. V. Marins
  • W. Machado
  • H. H. M. Paraquetti
  • E. D. Bidone
  • L. D. LacerdaEmail author
Original Article


Sepetiba Bay is an example of an aquatic environment that has been severely impacted by human occupation and industrial activities in its basin. Some 400 industries including metallurgical, petrochemical and pyrometallurgical smelters, which emitted pollutants to air, soil and water, were established in Sepetiba Basin during the past 30 years. Apart from these point sources, changes in land use have also resulted in a large remobilization of pollutant deposition on Sepetiba Bay Basin. Studies have pointed out significant changes in sedimentation rates, concentrations of inorganic pollutants (Zn, Cd, Pb and Hg) and more recently, eutrophication, pointing to this area as an example of an impacted coastal zone. Notwithstanding local sources, Sepetiba Bay also suffers environmental impacts caused by diversion of river waters from adjacent basins, with some 30% of the total Hg flux to Sepetiba Bay and a 10-fold increase in water and sediment fluxes resulting from this. Decreasing environmental quality compromises both the large biodiversity and the potential economic uses of Sepetiba Bay, including fisheries and tourism. Monitoring of heavy metal levels in organisms (algae, mollusks, crustaceans and oysters) often shows concentrations well above the limits allowed following Brazilian legislation for food quality. Historical evolution of these concentrations suggests a worsening of the situation. Failure to monitor the effect of land-based activities, including those from other basins artificially associated with Sepetiba Bay has resulted in poor scenario construction and proper management planning.


Heavy metal contamination Sedimentation Water diversion Land use change Sepetiba Bay Brazil 



This study is part of the PRONEX Program of the Ministry of Science and Technology of Brazil. Thanks are also due to the National Research Council (CNPq) for providing grants to the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. M. Molisani
    • 1
  • R. V. Marins
    • 2
  • W. Machado
    • 1
  • H. H. M. Paraquetti
    • 1
  • E. D. Bidone
    • 1
  • L. D. Lacerda
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Departamento de GeoquímicaUniversidade Federal FluminenseNiteróiBrasil
  2. 2.Instituto de Ciências do MarUniversidade Federal do CearáFortalezaBrasil
  3. 3.Instituto de Ciências do MarUniversidade Federal do CearáFortalezaBrasil

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