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Environ Pollut. 2013 Jul;178:220-8. doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2013.02.022. Epub 2013 Apr 11.

Effects of pesticides and pharmaceuticals on biofilms in a highly impacted river.

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Institute of Aquatic Ecology, University of Girona, Spain.


We investigated the effects of pharmaceuticals and pesticides detected in a Mediterranean river, on fluvial biofilms by translocation experiments performed under controlled conditions. Water was sampled from three sites along a pollution gradient. Biofilms grown in mesocosms containing relatively clean water were translocated to heavily polluted water. Several biofilm descriptors were measured before and after translocations. Fifty-seven pharmaceuticals and sixteen pesticides compounds were detected in river waters. The translocation from less to more polluted site was the most effective. Autotrophic biomass and peptidase increased while phosphatase and photosynthetic efficiency decreased. Multivariate analysis revealed that analgesics and anti-inflammatories significantly affected biofilm responses. Ibuprofen and paracetamol were associated with negative effects on photosynthesis, and with the decrease of the green algae/cyanobacteria ratio, while diclofenac was associated with phosphatase activity. The effects of these emerging compounds on biofilms structure and function may cause important alterations in river ecosystem functioning.

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