Priority Substances and Emerging Organic Pollutants in Portuguese Aquatic Environment: A Review

  • Cláudia RibeiroEmail author
  • Ana Rita RibeiroEmail author
  • Maria Elizabeth Tiritan
Part of the Reviews of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology book series (RECT, volume 238)


Aquatic environments are among the most noteworthy ecosystems regarding chemical pollution due to the anthropogenic pressure. In 2000, the European Commission implemented the Water Framework Directive, with the aim of progressively reducing aquatic chemical pollution of the European Union countries. Therefore, the knowledge about the chemical and ecological status is imperative to determine the overall quality of water bodies. Concerning Portugal, some studies have demonstrated the presence of pollutants in the aquatic environment but an overall report is not available yet. The aim of this paper is to provide a comprehensive review about the occurrence of priority substances included in the Water Framework Directive and some classes of emerging organic pollutants that have been found in Portuguese aquatic environment. The most frequently studied compounds comprise industrial compounds, natural and synthetic estrogens, phytoestrogens, phytosterols, pesticides, pharmaceuticals and personal care products. Concentration of these pollutants ranged from few ng L−1 to higher values such as 30 μg L−1 for industrial compounds in surface waters and up to 106 μg L−1 for the pharmaceutical ibuprofen in wastewaters. Compounds already banned in Europe such as atrazine, alkylphenols and alkylphenol polyethoxylates are still found in surface waters, nevertheless their origin is still poorly understood. Beyond the contamination of the Portuguese aquatic environment by priority substances and emerging organic pollutants, this review also highlights the need of more research on other classes of pollutants and emphasizes the importance of extending this research to other locations in Portugal, which have not been investigated yet.



The authors wish to acknowledge the support from CESPU (03-GCQF-CICS-11) PHARMADRUGS-CESPU-2014 and Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia (FCT) through the projects FLUOROPHARMA (PTDC/EBB-EBI/111699/2009) and Strategic Funding UID/Multi/04423/2013 through national funds provided by FCT and European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), in the framework of the programme PT2020. Ana Rita Ribeiro wishes to acknowledge the research grant from FCT, Portugal (Ref. SFRH/BPD/101703/2014) and the support from the project NORTE-07-0202-FEDER-038900 (NEPCAT), financed by FEDER through ON2 (Programa Operacional do Norte) and QREN.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CESPU, Instituto de Investigação e Formação Avançada em Ciências e Tecnologias da Saúde (IINFACTS)Gandra PRDPortugal
  2. 2.LCM – Laboratory of Catalysis and Materials – Associate Laboratory LSRE/LCM, Faculdade de EngenhariaUniversidade do PortoPortoPortugal
  3. 3.Laboratório de Química Orgânica e Farmacêutica, Departamento de Ciências Químicas, Faculdade de FarmáciaUniversidade do PortoPortoPortugal
  4. 4.Centro Interdisciplinar de Investigação Marinha e Ambiental (CIIMAR/CIMAR)Universidade do PortoPortoPortugal

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