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Evaluation of estrogenic activity from a municipal wastewater treatment plant with predominantly domestic input
Tilton, F.; Benson, W.H.; Schlenk, D. (2002). Evaluation of estrogenic activity from a municipal wastewater treatment plant with predominantly domestic input. Aquat. Toxicol. 61(3-4): 211-224
In: Aquatic Toxicology. Elsevier Science: Tokyo; New York; London; Amsterdam. ISSN 0166-445X, more
Peer reviewed article  

Available in  Authors 

    Sex hormones; Vitellogenesis; Waste water; Wastewater treatment; Fresh water

Authors  Top 
  • Tilton, F.
  • Benson, W.H.
  • Schlenk, D.

    The purpose of this study was to survey estrogenic releases from two primarily domestic wastewater treatment plants over three seasons (1996-1999). Mature male channel catfish were maintained at two sites within each WWTP and a reference site for 21 days. Estrogenic activity of effluent was assessed by the Yeast Estrogen Screen (YES) assay (in 1999) and the expression of the female egg yolk precursor protein, vitellogenin (Vtg) in caged male channel catfish (1996-1998). Serum Vtg of animals exposed at WWTP-A was induced 220% above reference values in the Fall of 1996 and 480% in Spring of 1997. In animals exposed to effluent of WWTP-B, serum Vtg was elevated 370% in Spring of 1997 and 480% in Fall of 1997 relative to fish held in a reference location. Serum 17 ß-estradiol (E2) levels were also significantly elevated 13 and 16-fold in the Fall 1997 and Summer 1998 in the fish exposed to WWTP-A effluent. A 13.5-fold increase in serum E2 was observed in fish exposed to WWTP-B during Fall 1997. Utilizing an E2 concentration-Vtg response curve generated in the laboratory, effluent from both plants (in 1997 and 1998) had estrogen equivalent values ranging from 23 to 123 ng/l E2 equivalents. These values were comparable with YES values obtained from 1999, which indicated the presence of 21 to 147 ng/l E2 equivalents. E2 was responsible for 3 (fall) to 100% (summer) of the YES activity. Glucuronides of E2 were also observed in the treated effluent. These studies indicate that variable estrogenic activity is present in municipal wastewater resulting from domestic activities and that this activity may be significantly altered by environmental factors.

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