A critical evaluation is presented on the use of faecal sterols for the identification of sewage contamination in Guanabara Bay. Sediments were collected from 8 stations in the bay selected as representative of different contamination levels. GC/MS determination of faecal sterols gave: coprostanol, 335 - 40000 ng g-1; coprostanone, 112-4136 ng g-1; cholesterol, 1407-7800 ng g-1; cholestanol, 2011 - 10900 ng g-1 and cholestanone, 655-7954 ng g-1. The observed concentration is in accordance with the presence of known pollution sources, however, concentration ratios of different sterols species produced unclear results evidently influenced by primary production and microbial processes
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