Assessing the quality of freshwaters in a protected area within the Tagus River basin district (central Portugal).J Environ Qual. 2012 Sep-Oct; 41(5):1413-26.JE
Water-sediment quality was assessed in an agricultural zone of a protected area within the Tagus River basin district (central Portugal) combining chemical analysis to 12 pesticide compounds and whole toxicity testing using the bacterium , the algae , the crustacean , and the midge . The herbicides alachlor, atrazine ethofumesate, metolachlor, terbuthylazine, the insecticides chlorfenvinphos and chlorpyrifos, and the metabolite 3,4-dichloroaniline were detected in surface water samples at four sites and in groundwater samples from six wells, during four sampling occasions. Measured concentrations were compared with parametric values for human consumption, groundwater quality standards, and environmental quality standards applicable to surface water established in European Union legislation. Most severe adverse effects were noted on the growth of and lethality of in nondiluted water samples. Taking into account the values calculated by the method of toxic unit summation for pesticide mixtures, it was not possible to link the pesticides found to the toxicity detected in the water samples. Conducting this study with chemical analyses and biotests provided a more comprehensive quality assessment and realistic picture of the environmental samples analyzed, although additional studies are needed to evaluate the performance of mixture models for predicting mixture toxicity. This study underlines the importance of chemical analysis and whole toxicity testing as tools for assessing the impact of human activity on the status of water, mainly in protected zones.