Mixtures of estrogenic contaminants in bile of fish exposed to sewage treatment effluents

Gibson, R, Smith, M D, Spary, C J, Tyler, C R and Hill, E M (2005) Mixtures of estrogenic contaminants in bile of fish exposed to sewage treatment effluents. Environmental Science and Technology, 39 (8). pp. 2461-2471. ISSN 0013-936X

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Most effluents from wastewater treatment works (WwTWs) contain estrogenic chemicals that include steroidal estrogens and xenoestrogens. We investigated the nature of mixtures of estrogenic contaminants taken up by two species of fish exposed to two WwTWs effluents. Sexually immature rainbow trout, Oncorhynchus mykiss, and sexually mature roach, Rutilus rutilus, were exposed to tap water, river water, or one of two estrogenic WwTWs effluents for up to 10 days, when the fish were sacrificed and tissues removed for chemical analysis. Estrogenic contaminants in the bile and gonads were hydrolyzed, concentrated by solid-phase extraction, and fractionated by RP-HPLC. Active fractions were detected and quantified using a yeast estrogen receptor transcription screen (YES assay) and the identities of estrogenic components in the fractions determined by GC-MS. Bile from rainbow trout exposed to either tap water or river water contained low amounts of 17 beta-estradiol (E2) and estrone (E1) with a total estrogenic activity (mean +/- standard error) of 10 +/- 5 and 31 +/- 9 ng of E2 equivalents/mL (ng of E2eq/mL) for male and female fish, respectively. In effluent-exposed trout the total estrogen content of bile was considerably higher with the following composition and concentrations (ng of E2eq/mL) of individual estrogens: E2 (male, 591 +/- 125; female, 710 +/- 207), E1 (male, 338 +/- 75; female, 469 +/- 164), ethinylestradiol, EE2 (male, 32 +/- 2; female, 40 +/- 6), nonylphenol (NP) and short-chain NP polyethoxylates (male, 21 +/- 4; female, 22 +/- 3). An additional estrogenic compound, 17 beta-dihydroequilenin (DHQ), was identified for the first time in effluent-exposed fish, and was present in trout bile at concentrations of (male) 40 +/- 9 and (female) 30 +/- 5 ng of E2 eq/mL. DHQ, E2, E1, and EE2, but not NP or NP polyethoxylates, were also detected in bile of effluent-exposed roach, and the concentrations of all these steroidal estrogens in ng of E2eq/mL were lower in male (E2, 62 +/- 2; E1, 35 +/- 11; EE2, 10 +/- 2; DHQ, 1 +/- 1) compared with female (E2, 740 +/- 197; E1, 197 +/- 37; EE2, 40 +/- 6; DHQ, 8 +/- 2) roach. The synthetic estrogen EE2 was also detected in the testes and ovaries of effluent-exposed roach. This study shows that a mixture of estrogenic contaminants present in WwTWs effluents bioconcentrate in fish tissues, resulting in the induction of vitellogenin, and are likely to contribute to feminizing effects in wild fish living in U.K. rivers. The composition of the mixture of estrogenic contaminants in the bile is species dependent and may determine the susceptibility of fish to the effects of exposure to estrogenic effluents.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This is the first report worldwide of the detection of hormone replacement therapy pharmaceuticals in wastewater effluents. This work provides important information for environmental legislation agencies for targeting removal of oestrogenic contaminants from wastewater effluents. I directed the work which was funded by an EPSRC grant to me.
Schools and Departments: School of Life Sciences > Evolution, Behaviour and Environment
Depositing User: Elizabeth Hill
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 20:26
Last Modified: 14 Jun 2012 11:12
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/25896
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