Spatiotemporal variations in estrogenicity, hormones, and endocrine-disrupting compounds in influents and effluents of selected wastewater-treatment plants and receiving streams in New York, 2008-09

Scientific Investigations Report 2014-5015
Prepared in cooperation with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
By: , and 

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Abstract

Endocrine-disrupting compounds (EDCs) in wastewater effluents have been linked to changes in sex ratios, intersex (in males), behavioral modifications, and developmental abnormalities in aquatic organisms. Yet efforts to identify and regulate specific EDCs in complex mixtures are problematic because little is known about the estrogen activity (estrogenicity) levels of many common and emerging contaminants. The potential effects of EDCs on the water quality and health of biota in streams of the New York City water supply is especially worrisome because more than 150 wastewater-treatment plants (WWTPs) are permitted to discharge effluents into surface waters and groundwaters of watersheds that provide potable water to more than 9 million people. In 2008, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC), New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH), and New York City Department of Environmental Protection (NYCDEP) began a pilot study to increase the understanding of estrogenicity and EDCs in effluents and receiving streams mainly in southeastern New York. The primary goals of this study were to document and assess the spatial and temporal variability of estrogenicity levels; the effectiveness of various treatment-plant types to remove estrogenicity; the concentrations of hormones, EDCs, and pharmaceuticals, personal care products (PPCPs); and the relations between estrogenicity and concentrations of hormones, EDCs, and PPCPs. The levels of estrogenicity and selected hormones, non-hormone EDCs, and PPCPs were characterized in samples collected seasonally in effluents from 7 WWTPs, once or twice in effluents from 34 WWTPs, and once in influents to 6 WWTPs. Estrogenicity was quantified, as estradiol equivalents, using both the biological e-screen assay and a chemical model. Results generally show that (1) estrogenicity levels in effluents varied spatially and seasonally, (2) a wide range of known and unknown EDCs were present in both WWTP effluents and receiving streams, (3) some effluents may be important sources of estrogenicity in weakly diluted streams, (4) measured levels of biological estrogenicity were often higher than estimated levels of chemical estrogenicity, and (5) the type of treatment had a large effect on the removal efficacy, and consequently, the estrogenicity levels observed in treated effluents.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Spatiotemporal variations in estrogenicity, hormones, and endocrine-disrupting compounds in influents and effluents of selected wastewater-treatment plants and receiving streams in New York, 2008-09
Series title Scientific Investigations Report
Series number 2014-5015
DOI 10.3133/sir20145015
Year Published 2014
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) New York Water Science Center
Description Report: iv, 32 p.; Appendixes 1-2
Time Range Start 2008-01-01
Time Range End 2009-12-31
Country United States
State New York
Projection Universal Transverse Mercator projection
Online Only (Y/N) Y
Additional Online Files (Y/N) Y
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