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Environ Int. 2009 Oct;35(7):997-1003. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2009.04.006. Epub 2009 May 20.

Analysis of phytoestrogens, progestogens and estrogens in environmental waters from Rio de Janeiro (Brazil).

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Institut de Diagnòstic Ambiental i Estudis de l'Aigua (IDAEA), Spanish Council for Scientific Research (CSIC), Barcelona, Spain.


The environment is currently exposed to a large variety of man-made chemicals (e.g. for industrial, medicinal use) which have potential adverse effects to its ecological status. In addition, the densely populated areas represent local high emissions of those chemicals leading to more aggravating consequences. Estrogenic compounds that end-up in environmental water directly affect living organisms by interfering with their endocrine metabolism. The assessment of their presence in the environment requires sensitive and selective analytical methods. Nineteen estrogenic compounds belonging to different classes (5 free estrogens, 6 conjugated estrogens, 3 progestogens and 5 phytoestrogens) have been studied. The analytical methodology developed is based on solid phase extraction followed by liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry and has been applied to study the occurrence of the above mentioned analytes in environmental waters from the state of Rio de Janeiro (Brazil). Due to insufficient infra-structure in this region, waste waters are released onto the environment without or with incomplete previous treatment. The results show that high levels of the phytoestrogens daidzein, coumestrol and genistein of up to 366 ng/L and progesterone of up to 47 ng/L could be found in river water. Estrogens and their conjugated derivatives were detected in the lower ng/L range up to 7 ng/L. The main estrogens estrone, estradiol and the synthetic ethinyl estradiol could not be detected. The developed method showed overall good performance with recoveries above 80% (with one exception), limits of detection < or =2 ng/L, good linearity and reproducibility.

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