- The feasibility of biomarkers to accurately detect pollution in estuaries and coastal areas appears to be overestimated in the scientific literature, and is likely stemming from a bias towards publishing only positive results. Herein, we test the applicability of antioxidant capacity and lipid peroxidation to detect potential in situ sewage impacts on a subtropical estuary. We experimentally assessed variation in malondialdehyde (MDA, an indicator of lipid peroxidation) and total antioxidant capacity against peroxyl radicals (ACAP) through transplantations of the worm Laeonereis culveri from control to sewage-polluted areas. Variations in biomarkers were more related to natural environmental variability and small-scale heterogeneity among areas than to experimental exposure to sewage. Use of oxidative stress biomarkers is promising but further experimental work under real-life conditions is necessary to further validate and establish their accuracy and feasibility for practical purposes.