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Environ Sci Technol. 2003 May 1;37(9):1744-50.

Steroid estrogens profiles along river stretches arising from sewage treatment works discharges.

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Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Wallingford, Oxfordshire, OX10 8BB, UK.


Concentrations of estradiol, estrone, and ethinylestradiol were measured in the water column (daily for 28 or 14 days) and in the bed sediment (weekly over the same period) of the River Nene and the River Lea, U.K., upstream and downstream of sewage treatment works (STW). The concentrations of the three steroids in the STW effluents were also measured. Estrone was detected at the highest concentration and in almost all samples from the three STW effluents, concentrations ranging from <0.4 to 12.2 ng/L. Estradiol was also detected frequently (<0.4-4.3 ng/L), but ethinylestradiol was detected infrequently (<0.4-3.4 ng/L). Positive detections were only found for estrone in the sediment, and these seemed to be unrelated to the water column concentrations. Levels of estrone were clearly raised above background levels in the rivers as a result of the STW discharges. Levels of estradiol and ethinylestradiol were too close to their detection limits to assess the STW impact. River water estrone concentration declined downstream at a rate that was in excess of that due to dilution. The most likely cause of this decline is a combination of sorption and biodegradation equivalent to a first-order decay half-life of 2.5 days for the River Nene and 0.5 days for the River Lea.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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