Heavy metal bioavailability and effects: I. Bioaccumulation caused by mining activities in the Gulf of Cádiz (SW, Spain)

Chemosphere. 2005 Feb;58(5):659-69. doi: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2004.02.015.


The bioaccumulation of six metals (Fe, Mn, Zn, Cd, Pb and Cu) was studied as part of the monitoring of the Aznalcóllar mining spill (April 1998) on the Guadalquivir estuary and in other estuaries located in the Gulf of Cádiz. Fish, clams and oysters were collected during different seasonal periods along the years 2000 and 2001 in the Guadalquivir estuary to determine the bioaccumulation of the metals originated by the mining spill. Results were compared to the bioaccumulation of the same metals in fish and clams exposed in the laboratory to sediments collected in the same areas during autumn 2001. The bioaccumulation of these metals was compared to the concentration of metals measured in tissues of same taxas collected in the areas of the ria of Huelva and the Bay of Cádiz. Results show that the bioaccumulation of Zn and Cd in the organisms sampled in the Guadalquivir estuary was associated with the enrichment of these metals in the estuary from the mining spill and decreased along the time reaching the lowest values in autumn 2001. The metal Cu show different trends that are associated with other sources of contamination than the spill and related to the transport of this metal from Huelva to Guadalquivir estuary and/or to the use of this metal as plaguicide in the rice fields located in the area. The comparison between bioaccumulation results under field and laboratory conditions obtained in the different areas of study shows that these data can be used to discriminate between acute and chronic impacts associated with mining activities.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Availability
  • Fishes / metabolism*
  • Metals, Heavy / pharmacokinetics*
  • Mining*
  • Models, Biological
  • Mollusca / metabolism*
  • Spain
  • Tissue Distribution
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / pharmacokinetics*


  • Metals, Heavy
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical