DNA damage in earthworms by exposure of Persistent Organic Pollutants in low basin of Coatzacoalcos River, Mexico Article uri icon


  • Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) are stable organic chemicals that represent a potential risk for ecosystems due to their high toxicity, persistence and biomagnification through food chains. Bioindicators in ecosystems have emerged to assess the effect of environmental pollutants. Earthworms are some of the most common bioindicator organisms in terrestrial ecosystems. The main objective of this study was to evaluate the geontoxicity of POP exposure in wild earthworms captured at different levels of urbanization throughout the lower basin of the Coatzacoalcos River (industrial, urban and rural areas). POP soil and earthworm tissue concentrations were measured via Gas-Mass Chromatography, and earthworm DNA damage was evaluated through the comet assay. The greatest concentrations of ΣPOPs, DDT and HCH were found in soil from industrial sites, followed by urban and rural areas (504.68, 383.10, 298.16; 22.6, 4.6, 2.6 and 433.7, 364, 255.6 mg/kg, respectively). Unlike other pollutants, mean ΣPCBs values were highest for industrial soil samples, followed by those from rural and urban areas (41.10, 33.97 and 12.44 mg/kg respectively). For all earthworm tissue POP analyses, the highest concentrations were found in individuals from industrial sites, followed by the urban and rural areas. Furthermore, the highest levels of DNA damage were registered in the industrial area, followed by the urban and rural areas. These assays suggest a strong links among regional soil contamination, POPs bioavailability and the potential risk of detrimental health effects for organisms that inhabit surface soil (soil life). Earthworms contribute vital ecosystem services that could be affected by these results. This work provides evidence of the potential ecological risk that exists in the Lower Basin of the Coatzacoalcos River. © 2018 Elsevier B.V.

publication date

  • 2019-01-01