Natural and Synthetic Estrogens in Wastewater Treatment Plant Effluent and the Coastal Ocean
MASSACHUSETTS INST OF TECH CAMBRIDGE JOINT PROGRAM IN APPLIED OCEAN SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING
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Steroidal estrogens are potent endocrine disrupting chemicals that are naturally excreted by vertebrates e.g., humans and fish and can enter natural waters through the discharge of treated and raw sewage. We have developed a tandem mass spectrometry method that is capable of simultaneously quantifying free, conjugated, and halogenated estrogens at picomolar levels in wastewater effluent and coastal seawater. The method was validated using treated effluent from the greater Boston metropolitan area, where we found that halogenated estrogens represented over 50 of the total estrogen discharge flux. In the receiving waters of Massachusetts Bay, we detected a range of conjugated, free, and halogenated forms at concentrations 0.2 0.3 ng L-1 that were well-predicted by dilution near the sewage outfall. Farther offshore, we found significantly higher estrone concentrations 0.5 ng L-1 which points to large inputs of estrogens from sources other than sewage. Finally, we have found that synthetic estrogens and progestogens in commercial and pharmaceutical preparations exhibit significantly depleted 13C values -30 compared to endogenous steroids -16 to -26 . This isotopic difference should make it possible to apportion synthetic and endogenous hormone sources in complex environments.
- Water Pollution and Control