Monitoring of the impact of Prestige oil spill on Mytilus galloprovincialis from Galician coast

Blanca Laffon, Tamara Rábade, Eduardo Pásaro, Josefina Méndez
Environment International 2006, 32 (3): 342-8
In November 2002, the Prestige oil tanker was wrecked in front of Galician coast (NW of Spain), spilling near 63,000 tons of heavy oil until February 2003. Contamination produced was very extensive (70% of Galician beaches were reached by the oil) but heterogeneous, alternating intensely affected zones with neighbour locations where the repercussion was minimal. The objective of this study was to monitor sea environment contamination caused by Prestige oil spill during an 11-month period (August 2003-June 2004, nine samplings) in two locations of Galician coast with different geographical properties (Lira and Ancoradoiro beaches), by means of chemical determination of total polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (TPAH) in seawater, and using as exposure biomarker TPAH content in mussel (Mytilus galloprovincialis) tissues, and as effect biomarker DNA damage in mussel gills, evaluated by the comet assay. In addition, recovery ability of the mussels was determined after a 7-day stay in the laboratory. TPAH contents in seawater were very high in the earliest samplings, but then they maintained below 200 ng L(-)(1), similar to reference seawater. However, TPAH levels in mussel tissues were more variable: they increased again from January 2004, probably due to the adverse meteorological conditions that turned over the sea bottom and dispersed the oil accumulated in sediments. In most samplings, these levels decreased during the recovery stage. DNA damage in oil-exposed mussels was significantly higher than in reference mussels, both before and after the recovery phase, but they did not differ to one another. Comet tail length was slightly reduced during the recovery stage, indicative of a certain DNA repair in exposed mussels. This study showed up the importance of monitoring sea contamination events during an extended time, not only in evaluating the presence of the contaminants in the environment but also in determining their bioaccumulation and their effect on the exposed organisms.

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