Contaminants in the coastal karst aquifer system along the Caribbean coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico

Chris D. Metcalfe, Patricia A. Beddows, Gerardo Gold Bouchot, Tracy L. Metcalfe, Hongxia Li, Hanneke Van Lavieren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

125 Scopus citations


Intensive land development as a result of the rapidly growing tourism industry in the "Riviera Maya" region of the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico may result in contamination of groundwater resources that eventually discharge into Caribbean coastal ecosystems. We deployed two types of passive sampling devices into groundwater flowing through cave systems below two communities to evaluate concentrations of contaminants and to indicate the possible sources. Pharmaceuticals and personal care products accumulated in the samplers could only have originated from domestic sewage. PAHs indicated contamination by runoff from highways and other impermeable surfaces and chlorophenoxy herbicides accumulated in samplers deployed near a golf course indicated that pesticide applications to turf are a source of contamination. Prevention and mitigation measures are needed to ensure that expanding development does not impact the marine environment and human health, thus damaging the tourism-based economy of the region.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)991-997
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2011


  • Caribbean
  • Coastal aquifers
  • Herbicide
  • Karst
  • Meso-American Barrier Reef System
  • Passive sampling
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Yucatan

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


Dive into the research topics of 'Contaminants in the coastal karst aquifer system along the Caribbean coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this