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Agricultural contaminants threaten Doñana National Park in Spain

Eleven years after the Aznalcóllar pyrite mine rupture, in the north of the Doñana National Park (Huelva), the contamination caused from the spill seems to have been overcome. Spanish researchers have, however, evaluated the environmental quality of the Park's environment with crayfish as bio-indicators.

This methodology demonstrates that contaminants from intensive agriculture being carried out close to the Park are the main threat in this Biosphere Reserve and are already affecting the Puebla del Río and Matochal rice paddies.

The six million cubic metre acid water and toxic pyrite mud spill in 1998 did not have dramatic effects on the Doñana National Park because it did not enter the park limits. There is, however, still concern in the area due to agricultural activity and the use of pesticides in harvests close to the protected Natural Space which could threaten the Park's environmental quality.

The study, which has been published in Science of the Total Environment, has determined that the upper courses of the Rocina Stream, and especially the Partido Stream, are the most affected by agricultural contaminants, since the most intense fruit cultivation is in these areas. The researchers reached these conclusions upon combining the responses from the conventional biomarkers in crayfish (Procambarus clarkii), used as bio-indicators, with the massive analysis of changes in protein expression.

by S. C.
28 april 2009, Technical Area > Science News

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