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Chemosphere. 2009 Oct;77(4):566-73. doi: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2009.06.049. Epub 2009 Aug 4.

Imposex and organotin prevalence in a European post-legislative scenario: temporal trends from 2003 to 2008.

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  • 1CESAM & Department of Biology, University of Aveiro, 3810-193 Aveiro, Portugal.


Imposex levels and organotin tissue concentrations were assessed in Nassarius reticulatus females collected between June and August 2008 at 23 sites along the Portuguese coast. Females with imposex were present at all sampling sites with highest levels inside main harbors. Imposex parameters across sampling stations varied between 6.3% and 100% for %I, 0.2-4.4 for VDSI, 0.1-7.8mm for FPL, 0.3-88.9% for RPLI and 0.0-1.1 for AOS. TBT levels varied between 3.5 and 380 ngSng(-1) dw, representing an average proportion of 50.4% of total butyltins (summation operator BTs=MBT+DBT+TBT). Sterile females were detected at two locations. Highly significant correlations between imposex and TBT levels were found. The efficacy of the EU legislation banning the use of TBT-based antifouling paints since 2003 (EC Regulation 782/2003) was evaluated by comparing the levels of imposex observed in 2008 with those reported for 2003. OTs tissue concentrations were also determined in preserved samples collected in 2003. There was a decrease in imposex and TBT tissue contamination between 2003 and 2008 indicating that a decline in TBT pollution has occurred in the Portuguese coast since the implementation of the legislation. Considering that the EC Regulation 782/2003 is an anticipation of the IMO AFS Convention, a global scale decrease in TBT pollution can be expected in the near future. Despite the rapid amelioration in the Portuguese coast, TBT pollution is still a problem as the Ecological Quality Objective (EcoQO) proposed by OSPAR Commission was not achieved in 91% of the surveyed sites.

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