Exposure to persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and DNA damage as an indicator of environmental stress in fish of different feeding habits of Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz, Mexico Article uri icon


  • The region of Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz hosts one of the largest and most important industrial areas of Mexico and Latin America. Industrial development and rapid population growth, have triggered a severe impact on aquatic ecosystems of the region. The aim of this study was to determine the levels of POPs in sediment and in muscle tissue of five fish species from different trophic levels in downstream residents of the Coatzacoalcos River, and their integration with DNA damage in the fish, evaluated with the comet assay in whole blood as a biological indicator of stress, in order to obtain a baseline of the ecological condition of the region. The compounds detected in sediment and in muscle tissue were hexachlorobenzene (HCB), α-, β-, γ-hexachlorocyclohexane (HCH), dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT), dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene (DDE), mirex and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Sediment concentrations of these pollutants (except for mirex) exceeded the values of protection provided by international guidelines, suggesting a potential risk to aquatic life in the region. DNA damage recorded in the fish species is evidence of exposure to a mix of genotoxic pollutants, which combined with exposure to POPs, reflects the degree of environmental stress of aquatic organisms in the region. The results of this study show the importance of determining the presence of contaminants in the environment, the bioaccumulation in tissues and their effects on exposed organisms, providing an integrated approach in assessing the health of aquatic ecosystems. © 2010 Springer Science%2bBusiness Media, LLC.

publication date

  • 2010-01-01