Marine pollution has been increasing as a consequence of anthropogenic activities. The preservation of marine ecosystems, as well as the safety of harvested seafood, are nowadays a global concern. Here, we report for the first time the contamination levels of a large set of 99 emerging and persistent organic contaminants (butyltins (BTs), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), pesticides including pyrethroids, pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PCPs) and flame retardants) in roe/gonads of sea urchin Paracentrotus lividus. Sea urchins are a highly prized worldwide delicacy, and the harvesting of this seafood has increased over the last decades, particularly in South West Atlantic coast, where this organism is harvested mainly for exportation. Sampling was performed in three harvesting sites of the NW Portuguese coast subjected to distinct anthropogenic pressures: Carreço, Praia Norte and Vila Chã, with sea urchins being collected in the north and south areas of each site.
Butyltins and pharmaceuticals were not found at measurable levels. Several PAHs, four pyrethroids insecticides, four PCPs and eleven flame retardants were found in roe/gonads of sea urchins, though in general at low levels. Differences among harvesting sites and between areas within each site were found, the lowest levels of contaminants being registered in Carreço. The accumulation of contaminants in sea urchins’ roe/gonads seemed to reflect the low anthropogenic pressure felt in the sampling sites. Nevertheless, taking into account the low accumulated levels of chemicals, results indicate that sea urchins collected in South West Atlantic coast are safe for human consumption.