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Chemosphere. 2006 Jun;63(9):1583-90. Epub 2005 Nov 22.

Occurrence and photochemical degradation of 17alpha-ethinylestradiol in Acushnet River Estuary.

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Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and University of Massachusetts Graduate School of Marine Sciences and Technology, North Dartmouth, MA 02747, USA.


17alpha-Ethinylestradiol (EE2), a major constituent of common contraceptive pills, and three other estrogenic hormones, estrone (E1), 17beta-estradiol (E2) and mestranol (MeEE2) have been determined in Acushnet River Estuary seawater using a GC-MS technique. Among three estrogenic compounds detected, EE2 has the highest concentration, up to 4.7 ng/l, at which EE2 may affect lobster and other fish abundance in the coastal seawater due to its high biological activity on fish feminization. Two natural estrogenic hormones, E1 and E2 have also been found in the estuary at concentrations up to 1.2 ng/l and 0.83 ng/l, respectively. Although EE2 is persistent to microbial degradation, it can undergo a rapid photodegradation in estuarine seawater under natural sunlight irradiation, with a half-life of less than 1.5 days in spring sunny days.

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