Integrated assessment of water quality of the Costa da Morte (Galicia, NW Spain) by means of mussel chemical, biochemical and physiological parameters

Beatriz Fernández, Marina Albentosa, Lucía Viñas, Angeles Franco, Juan J González, Juan A Campillo
Ecotoxicology 2010, 19 (4): 735-50
The aim of this study was to assess environmental quality at some of the sites most severely affected by the Prestige oil spill off 2 years after the spillage (April and November 2004). For this purpose analyses of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) and several biochemical (antioxidant enzymes catalase, glutathione reductase, glutathione peroxidase, superoxide dismutase and DT-diaphorase and lipid peroxidation) and physiological [scope for growth (SFG)] biomarkers were determined on wild mussel populations (Mytilus galloprovincialis) collected at four points along the Costa da Morte and compared with those of a reference site not affected by the oil spill. Results showed that PAH contents had markedly decreased 17 months after the accident, although they were higher in April than in November, when they showed values similar to background levels reported for this area. Nevertheless, the predominance of chrysene on PAH profiles, similarly to findings obtained immediately after the spill, indicated the Prestige as their main source. In spite of the low PAH levels recorded, antioxidant activity levels (explained through the integrated antioxidant response-IAR) were higher in the Costa da Morte than at the reference site either in April and November. In April IAR seems to be related to PAH levels found 3 months after the accident (February 2003), suggesting the persistence in the environment of oxidative stress-producing components from the spill. However, evidence of oxidative stress was not reflected at physiological level by scope for growth, with only very slight differences being observed between values from the reference site and those from Costa da Morte sites. In conclusion, although 2 years after the spill PAHs bioaccumulated by mussels from the Costa da Morte had decreased to background levels, biochemical parameters showed signals of oxidative stress in mussels from this area. However, SFG reflected a good health status for the mussel populations studied and did not reveal evidence of physiological disturbance either 17 or 24 months after the Prestige spill.

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