Concern that selected chemicals in the environment may act as endocrine active compounds in aquatic ecosystems is widespread; however, few studies have examined the occurrence of endocrine active compounds and identified biological markers of endocrine disruption such as intersex occurrence in fish longitudinally in a river system. This report presents environmental data collected and analyzed by the U.S. Geological Survey, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and St. Cloud State University as part of an integrated biological and chemical study of endocrine disruption in fish in the Mississippi River. Data were collected from water, bed sediment, and fish at 43 sites along the river from the headwaters at Lake Itasca to 14 miles downstream from Brownsville, Minnesota during June through August 2006.
Twenty-four individual compounds were detected in water samples, with cholesterol, atrazine, N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide, metolachlor, and hexahydrohexamethylcyclopentabenzopyran detected most frequently (in at least 10 percent of the samples). The number of compounds detected in water per site ranged from 0 to 8.
Forty individual compounds were detected in bed-sediment samples. The most commonly detected compounds (in at least 50 percent of the samples) were indole, beta-sitosterol, cholesterol, beta-stigmastanol, 3-methyl-1H-indole, p-cresol, pyrene, phenol, fluoranthene, 3-beta coprostanol, benzo[a]pyrene, acetophenone, and 2,6-dimethylnaphthalene. The total number of detections in bed sediment (at a site) ranged from 3 to 31. The compounds NP1EO, NP2EO, and 4-nonylphenol were detected in greater than 10 percent of the samples.
Most (80 percent) female fish collected had measurable concentrations of vitellogenin. Vitellogenin also was detected in 62, 63, and 33 percent of male carp, smallmouth bass, and redhorse, respectively. The one male walleye sample plasma sample analyzed had a vitellogenin detection. Vitellogenin concentrations were lower in male fish (not detected to 10.80 micrograms per milliliter) than female fish (0.04 to 248,079 micrograms per milliliter). Gonadosomatic Index values ranged from 0.02 to 7.49 percent among all male fish and were greater for male carp than for the other three species. No intersex (oocytes present in testes tissue) was found in any male fish sampled.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Occurrence of Endocrine Active Compounds and Biological Responses in the Mississippi River - Study Design and Data, June through August 2006