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Marine protected areas in Latin America and Caribbean threatened by polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons

Beatriz Zachello Nunes, Eliete Zanardi-Lamardo, Rodrigo Brasil Choueri, Ítalo Braga Castro
Environmental pollution 2021 v.269 pp. 116194
biosphere, georeferencing, pollution, risk, sediments, toxicity, Argentina, Brazil, Caribbean, Colombia, Latin America, Mexico, Nicaragua, Uruguay
The present study is a literature-based analysis investigating occurrence and the possible consequences of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) in marine protected areas (MPAs) of Latin America and Caribbean. The approach using overlapping of georeferenced MPA polygons with data compiled from peer-reviewed literature, published during the last 15 years, showed 341 records of PAH in 9 countries. PAH was reported to occur within the boundaries of 36 MPAs located in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Nicaragua and Uruguay. According to quality guidelines, low to moderate impacts are expected in MPAs categorized in different management classes. Considering sediment samples, 13% of the records presented concentrations enough to cause occasional toxicity. Such level of risk was also seen in Ramsar sites and in Amazonian MPAs. In addition, based on concentrations reported in biota, occasional deleterious effects on organisms from Biosphere Reserves might occur. Diagnostic ratios pointed out petrogenic and pyrolytic processes as PAH predominant sources, and were mainly attributed to the proximity to ports, industries and urban areas. MPAs located in the vicinity of impact-generating areas may be under threat and require government attention and action, mainly through implementation of contamination monitoring programs.