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Environ Toxicol Chem. 2012 Jun;31(6):1396-406. doi: 10.1002/etc.1825. Epub 2012 Apr 27.

Predicted-no-effect concentrations for the steroid estrogens estrone, 17β-estradiol, estriol, and 17α-ethinylestradiol.

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Johnson & Johnson, New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA.


The authors derive predicted-no-effect concentrations (PNECs) for the steroid estrogens (estrone [E1], 17β-estradiol [E2], estriol [E3], and 17α-ethinylestradiol [EE2]) appropriate for use in risk assessment of aquatic organisms. In a previous study, they developed a PNEC of 0.35 ng/L for EE2 from a species sensitivity distribution (SSD) based on all available chronic aquatic toxicity data. The present study updates that PNEC using recently published data to derive a PNEC of 0.1 ng/L for EE2. For E2, fish were the most sensitive taxa, and chronic reproductive effects were the most sensitive endpoint. Using the SSD methodology, we derived a PNEC of 2 ng/L for E2. Insufficient data were available to construct an SSD for E1 or E3. Therefore, the authors used in vivo vitellogenin (VTG) induction studies to determine the relative potency of the steroid estrogens to induce VTG. Based on the relative differences between in vivo VTG induction, they derive PNECs of 6 and 60 ng/L for E1 and E3, respectively. Thus, for long-term exposures to steroid estrogens in surface water (i.e., >60 d), the PNECs are 6, 2, 60, and 0.1 ng/L for E1, E2, E3, and EE2, respectively. Higher PNECs are recommended for short-term (i.e., a few days or weeks) exposures.

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