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Assessing the effects of treated and untreated urban discharges to estuarine and coastal waters applying selected biomarkers on caged mussels

Author(s): de los Rios A, Perez L, Ortiz-Zarragoitia M, Serrano T, Barbero MC

Abstract

To assess effects of urban discharges, biomarkers were measured in caged mussels in northern Iberian Peninsula. Lysosomal membrane stability and histopathology of gonad and digestive gland were analysed as general effect biomarkers. Exposure to specific pollutants was evaluated by autometallographical detection of metals, peroxisomal acyl-CoA oxidase activity, micronucleus test and transcription levels of vitellogenin and MT20 genes. Health status of mussels was impaired after 3 days of caging at the untreated outfall discharge and at the waste water treatment plant effluent discharge to the estuary. The most relevant finding was the significant up-regulation of vitellogenin gene transcription in male mussels exposed to the untreated outfall discharge. Metals and xenoestrogenic endocrine disruptors were bioavailable in some discharges and disturbed the health status of mussels. Biomarkers were effective in the assessment of effects of urban discharges and could be implemented in operative controls required to assess the risks associated to effluent discharges.

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