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Anal Bioanal Chem. 2004 Feb;378(3):688-96. Epub 2003 Oct 22.

Combined biological and chemical assessment of estrogenic activities in wastewater treatment plant effluents.

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  • 1Swiss Federal Institute for Environmental Science and Technology (EAWAG), Ueberlandstrasse 133, P.O. Box 611, 8600 Dubendorf, Switzerland.

Erratum in

  • Anal Bioanal Chem. 2004 Apr;378(7):1873.


Five wastewater treatment plant effluents were analyzed for known endocrine disrupters and estrogenicity. Estrogenicity was determined by using the yeast estrogen screen (YES) and by measuring the blood plasma vitellogenin (VTG) concentrations in exposed male rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss). While all wastewater treatment plant effluents contained measurable concentrations of estrogens and gave a positive response with the YES, only at two sites did the male fish have significantly increased VTG blood plasma concentrations after the exposure, compared to pre-exposure concentrations. Estrone (E1) concentrations ranged up to 51 ng L(-1), estradiol (E2) up to 6 ng L(-1), and ethinylestradiol (EE2) up to 2 ng L(-1) in the 90 samples analyzed. Alkylphenols, alkylphenolmonoethoxylates and alkylphenoldiethoxylates, even though found at microg L(-1) concentrations in effluents from wastewater treatment plants with a significant industrial content, did not contribute much to the overall estrogenicity of the samples taken due to their low relative potency. Expected estrogenicities were calculated from the chemical data for each sample by using the principle of concentration additivity and relative potencies of the various chemicals as determined with the yeast estrogen screen. Measured and calculated estradiol equivalents gave the same order of magnitude and correlated rather well (R(2)=0.6).

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