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Stien, J.L. and J. Schartzbrod (1990). Parasitological contamination of marine sediments. Study in Barcelona area. Rev. Sci. Eau, 3 (1) : 107-118. [article in french]

Original title : Contamination parasitaire des sédiments marins. Étude sur le site de Barcelone.

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Microbiological pollution of the marine environment is often the result of man's presence in the coastal zone (offshore flow of sewage sludge or effluents from raw or treated wastewater).

Although many studies have been carried out on the viral and bacteriological pollution of the marine environment, very little is known about parasitological contamination of this important resource. This investigation is aimed at the problem of parasitological contamination by examining its sources and their effect on the contamination of marine sediments of a specific coastal region.

Barcelone was selected as the study site because of the many types of effluent flowing into the sea. These are due to : two highly polluted rivets (the Besos river and the Llobregat river), treated and raw wastewater. Sewage sludge is transported offshore front Barcelone through a deep conduit.

Marine sediments were collected at distances between 50 m. to 4 km of the shores of urban Barcelone at depths varying from l0 to 52 m. Samples obtained by the oceanographic vessel « Garcia del Cid » required use of a Reineck device.

Parasite density was too low for direct microscopic examination, thus all the samples underwent an enrichment procedure. A preliminary study had shown that, out of all the various concentration methods available, the one described by Janeckso-Urbanyl was the best adapted 10 the samples investigated here. This method uses a high density (d = 1.44) potassium lodomercurate solution with low viscosity so that the eggs rise rapidly to the surface. The slides were enlarged 100 times and numbered with a Mac Master slide. The determination of the viability of Ascaris eggs was studies after a n-butanol treatment. The results are expressed as number of eggs per 100 g-1 sample.

Helminth eggs were found in 88,8 % of 36 samples analysed with levels ranging from 5 to 256 eggs per 100 g-1 of sediment. During the 3 campaigns, in November 1987 (first campaign) was obtained the smallest number of positive samples (9/12) and in March 1988 (second campaign) the highest number of positive samples seize all these samples contained helminth eggs. These eggs were of the Nematode and/or the Cestode class. All the positive samples (32/36) contained Nematode eggs whereas Cestode eggs are found only in 16 samples. The Nematode eggs were Ascaris, Toxacara and Trichuris, Capillaria; Cestode eggs Hymenolepis and Taenia. All the samples with Nematode eggs contained in decreasing amounts Toxocara (66,6 %), Ascaris (61 %) and Trichuris, Capliaria (22,2 %). Cestodes were predominantly Taenia (38,8 %), Hymenolepis (16,6%). The difference in behaviour between Nematode and Cestode eggs, the latter being much less frequent, was probably due to the greater fragility of Cestodes in a marine environment. The viability of the Ascaris eggs found on samples at the Besos area was 100 %. The samples from the effluent zone contained Ascaris eggs with viability ranging from 0 to 100 %. In the Barcelonetta area, 5 to 42 % of Ascaris eggs were viable.

These results obtained front seawater emphasize the necessity of further investigation into the extent of parasitological pollution on the marine environment by offshore flowing of treatment plant sludge, paying particular attention to the viability and the infection potential of the helminth eggs.


Wastewater, sludge, helminth eggs, Nematodes, Cestodes, marine sediments, viability, Ascaris.

Corresponding author

Ben Amor, H., Laboratoire de Chimie de l'Eau et des Nuisances, Université de Poitiers, 40 avenue du Recteur Pineau, 86022 Poitiers Cedex, France

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