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Instituto de Investigação
em Vulcanologia e Avaliação de Riscos
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Referência Bibliográfica

PEREIRA, E., FIGUEIRA, C., AGUIAR, N., VASCONCELOS, R., VASCONCELOS, S., CALADO, G., BRANDÃO, J., PRADA, S. (2013) – Microbiological and mycological beach sand quality in a volcanic environment: Madeira archipelago, Portugal. Science of the Total Environment, 461-462, p. 469-479. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2013.05.025.​


​Madeira forms a mid-Atlantic volcanic archipelago, whose economy is largely dependent on tourism. There, one can encounter different types of sand beach: natural basaltic, natural calcareous and artificial calcareous. Microbiological and mycological quality of the sand was analyzed in two different years. Bacterial indicators were detected in higher number in 2010 (36.7% of the samples) than in 2011 (9.1%). Mycological indicators were detected in a similar percentage of samples in 2010 (68.3%) and 2011 (75%), even though the total number of colonies detected in 2010 was much higher (827 in 41 samples) than in 2011 (427 in 66 samples). Enterococci and potentially pathogenic and allergenic fungi (particularly Penicillium sp.) were the most common indicators detected in both years. Candida sp. yeast was also commonly detected in the samples. The analysis of the 3rd quartile and maximum numbers of all indicators in samples showed that artificial beaches tend to be more contaminated than the natural ones. However, a significant difference between the variables was lacking. More monitoring data (number of bathers, sea birds, radiation intensity variation, and a greater number of samples) should be collected in order to confirm if these differences are significant. In general, the sand quality in the archipelago's beaches was good. As the sand may be a vector of diseases, an international common set of indicators and values and a compatible methodologies for assessing sand contamination, should be defined, in order to provide the bather's with an indication of beach sand quality, rather than only the water.