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Brazilian Journal of Oceanography

Print version ISSN 1679-8759On-line version ISSN 1982-436X


COSTA, Renata Lima da  and  CARREIRA, Renato S.. A comparison between faecal sterols and coliform counts in the investigation of sewage contamination in sediments. Braz. j. oceanogr. [online]. 2005, vol.53, n.3-4, pp.157-167. ISSN 1982-436X.

In September 2002, nine sediment samples (0-2 cm) were collected from Botafogo Cove (southwestern part of Guanabara Bay) in order to compare the use of chemical (coprostanol) and biological markers (E. coli and total coliforms) in identifying faecal contamination. The values found (organic carbon - 6.0 to 64.8 mg g-1; coprostanol - 1.4 to 105 µg g-1; E. coli - < 30 to 2400 NMP/10g and total coliforms - 40 to 9300 NMP/10g) were similar to or even higher than those observed in other contaminated areas of Guanabara Bay. In stations close to the shoreline, both coprostanol concentration and bacteria count confirmed that domestic sewage had accumulated in the cove. Coprostanol concentrations were still relatively high in the stations furthest from contamination sources, although faecal material represented a smaller fraction of the total organic carbon originated by dilution in waters containing algae. Reduction was proportionately higher by virtue of the use of the colimetric assessment method. This result may be associated with the effect that environmental variables (light, salinity, temperature) may have on the survival of bacteria during transport and deposition of sewage particles. Consequently, based on these results, coprostanol may be considered the better indicator of the faecal contamination level in Botafogo Cove sediments.

Keywords : Guanabara bay; Brazil; domestic sewage; coprostanol; faecal indicator bacteria.

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