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Estrogenic effects of sewage treatment plant effluents on fish in in situ flow-through systems in The Netherlands, Germany and Belgium
Gerritsen, A.A.M.; Kroon, A.G.M.; Versonnen, B.J.; Dubbeldam, M.C.; van Mullem, A.D.; Pieters, J.P.F.; Lahr, J. (2006). Estrogenic effects of sewage treatment plant effluents on fish in in situ flow-through systems in The Netherlands, Germany and Belgium, in: Vethaak, A.D. et al. (Ed.) Estrogens and xenoestrogens in the aquatic environment: an integrated approach for field monitoring and effect assessment. pp. 10-256
In: Vethaak, A.D.; Schrap, S.M.; de Voogt, W.P. (Ed.) (2006). Estrogens and xenoestrogens in the aquatic environment: an integrated approach for field monitoring and effect assessment. Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC): Pensacola. ISBN 1-880611-85-6. XXIX, 481 pp., more

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Authors  Top 
  • Gerritsen, A.A.M.
  • Kroon, A.G.M.
  • Versonnen, B.J., more
  • Dubbeldam, M.C.
  • van Mullem, A.D.
  • Pieters, J.P.F.
  • Lahr, J.

Abstract
    In the past, effluent discharges from sewage treatment plants have been found to cause estrogenic effects in wild and caged fish, especially during investigations in the United Kingdom. This study was part of an effort to investigate the estrogenicity of effluents to fish at treatment facilities on the European mainland. Rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) and carp (Cyprinus carpio) were exposed in situ during 12-22 days in mobile flow-through systems (‘MobyDicks’) to various concentrations of effluents (0%, 25%, 50% and 100%) of six municipal sewage treatment plants (STPs) and three industrial wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) in The Netherlands, Germany and Belgium. Carp were also exposed for 21 days in cages to effluent-receiving waters near two of the STP locations. Plasma concentrations of vitellogenin (VTG) in male or juvenile trout increased considerably with increasing effluent concentrations of one municipal effluent and two industrial effluents. Moderately increased VTG concentrations were observed for trout exposed to two other municipal effluents. At two treatment facilities, there were no (male) survivors in the 100% effluent concentrations whereas the lesser concentrations did hardly cause any estrogenic effects. At one site the surface water used for dilution was much more estrogenic to trout than the municipal effluent, and at the remaining industrial wastewater treatment plant the effluent was estrogenic but the surface water toxic. None of the effluents caused increased plasma VTG in male or juvenile carp. It is assumed that this species is less sensitive to environmental estrogens in effluents. The study adds to the growing evidence that the estrogenicity of wastewater treatment plant effluents to fish, as was first observed in the UK, is a global phenomenon. It is argued that the estrogenic agents responsible for the effects observed in this study are possibly the natural and synthetic steroid estrogens encountered in municipal STPs and nonylphenols and nonylphenolethoxylates that were measured in industrial WWTP effluents.

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