Arsenic enrichment in sediments and beaches of Brazilian coastal waters: A review

Willy Baeyens, Nicolai Mirlean, Jochen Bundschuh, Niels de Winter, Paulo Baisch, Flavio Manoel Rodrigues da Silva Júnior, Yue Gao*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


High concentrations of total arsenic (As), even above the Brazilian legislative threshold for marine sediments of 70 mg kg−1, were found in beach sands and near-shore surface sediments. Two mechanisms (anthropogenic activities and sedimentary processes in the coastal waters) are responsible for this contamination. The anthropogenic impact includes releases from metallurgical plants, phosphate fertilizer plants and gold and iron mining. In the coastal area sedimentary processes redistributed the As from the sediment into the porous structure of calcareous marine algae. These enriched calcareous algae are transported over time to the beach by wave action. As in the Brazilian coastal environment, increased As levels were also observed in other coastal environments of South America such as Rio Loa (Chile), Barbacoas Bay (Colombia) and the Southern Pampa region (Argentina). Finally, arsenic levels in fish from Brazilian coastal waters and North Sea, which is also an As-contaminated area, were compared. In both areas, short term health effects from fish consumption are not expected, but a lifetime cancer risk cannot be excluded.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)143-154
Number of pages12
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to thank Fonds Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (FWO) research grant 1529016N .

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Elsevier B.V.


  • Arsenic
  • Coastal environment
  • Enrichment mechanism
  • Latin America
  • Sources


Dive into the research topics of 'Arsenic enrichment in sediments and beaches of Brazilian coastal waters: A review'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this