Emerging and traditional organic markers: Baseline study showing the influence of untraditional anthropogenic activities on coastal zones with multiple activities (Ceará coast, Northeast Brazil).
Molecular markers are useful tools to characterize natural and anthropogenic impacts on coastal zones. Distribution of n-alkanes showed that the Pacoti River was predominantly influenced by terrigenous input. Distribution of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) indices showed a mix of natural sources, especially pyrogenic influences. Sterol and hormone levels showed sewage discharge. Integrated geographic assessment showed that pyrogenic process and sewage discharge are predominant along the river because of natural and different anthropogenic activities. The upstream region is influenced by rural activities such as livestock and discharge from the sewage treatment plant, whereas the estuarine region is influenced by urban and industrial activities, predominantly the discharge of treated or untreated sewage, vehicle traffic, and manufacture of red ceramics. On the other hand, on the river mouth, there is the predominance of aquaculture activities. Traditional anthropogenic markers are not sufficient for producing a comprehensive assessment of anthropogenic impacts in areas with multiple activities.