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Research article2022Peer reviewedOpen access

Are preserved coastal water bodies in Spanish Mediterranean basin impacted by human activity? Water quality evaluation using chemical and biological analyses

Celma, Alberto; Gago-Ferrero, Pablo; Golovko, Oksana; Hernandez, Felix; Lai, Foon Yin; Lundqvist, Johan; Menger, Frank; Sancho, Juan, V; Wiberg, Karin; Ahrens, Lutz; Bijlsma, Lubertus


The Spanish Mediterranean basin is particularly susceptible to climate change and human activities, making it vulnerable to the influence of anthropogenic contaminants. Therefore, conducting comprehensive and exhaustive water quality assessment in relevant water bodies of this basin is pivotal. In this work, surface water samples from coastal lagoons or estuaries were collected across the Spanish Mediterranean coastline and subjected to target and suspect screening of 1,585 organic micropollutants by liquid chromatography coupled to ion mobility separation and high resolution mass spectrometry. In total, 91 organic micropollutants could be confirmed and 5 were tentatively identified, with pharmaceuticals and pesticides being the most prevalent groups of chemicals. Chemical analysis data was compared with data on bioanalysis of those samples (recurrent aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) activation, and estrogenic receptor (ER) inhibition in wetland samples affected by wastewater streams). The number of identified organic contaminants containing aromatic rings could explain the AhR activation observed. For the ER antagonistic effects, predictions on estrogenic inhibition potency for the detected compounds were used to explain the activities observed. The integration of chemical analysis with bioanalytical observations allowed a comprehensive overview of the quality of the water bodies under study.


Ion mobility high resolution mass spectrometry; Bioanalysis; Wetland; Albufera; Ebro river; Organic micropollutants screening; Coastal lagoons

Published in

Environment International
2022, Volume: 165, article number: 107326