The hydrological regime of a large Mediterranean river influences the availability of pollutants to mussels at the adjacent marine coastal area: Implications for temporal and spatial trends.


Centro Oceanográfico de Murcia, Instituto Español de Oceanografía, IEO, Varadero, 1, 30740, San Pedro del Pinatar, Spain. Electronic address: [Email]


The present study reports the levels and trends (1993-2013) of DDTs, PCBs and metals in mussels collected at two coastal sites influenced by the River Ebro discharges. Results showed that levels of PCBs, DDTs, Cd and Hg were related to water inputs from the river, while these did not seem to be the main source for the Pb, Zn, Cu and As levels observed. Significant relationships were observed between PCBs and DDTs levels and the river flowrate in the fast-flowing months, suggesting that overflow periods promoted the mobilization of contaminants from sediments, and their subsequent discharge and spreading across the sea. Results indicated that PCBs were effectively southwestern transported, probably in relation to their soluble behavior in stream waters, while DDTs were limitedly spread in seawater, likely due to their particulate behavior. Significant declining trends observed for some metals, PCBs and p,p' DDE may reflect the reduction of pollutants inputs along the river basin. However, the results also showed significant relationships between the river's flowrate in the fast-flowing months and PCBs and DDTs levels, and significant decreases on the river flowrate in some fast-flowing months during the long-term series studies. Both facts suggested that the reduction on overflow periods influenced the decreasing pollutants trends observed in mussels. The present study advises that decreasing trends in contaminant levels in Mediterranean estuarine coastal areas may be related not only to successful remediation works/policies, but also to the fluctuations on the hydrological regime of the rivers, which are directly linked to current climatic trends.


Climate change,Contaminants,Mediterranean sea,Monitoring,Mussel,River hydrology,

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