Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Chemicals remaining after wastewater treatment change the gender of fish

22.06.2010
Male fish that used to be feminized after chemicals, such as the pharmaceutical ethinylestradiol, made it through the Boulder, Colo., Wastewater Treatment Plant and into Boulder Creek, are taking longer to become feminized after a plant upgrade to an activated sludge process, according to a new study. The results will be presented Sunday at The Endocrine Society's 92nd Annual Meeting in San Diego.

Although the levels of the chemicals that the fish swam in were very low even before the upgrade, the chemicals are endocrine disrupters. They mimic estrogen and may disrupt the endocrine (hormone) system of both animals and humans, said the study's principal investigator, David Norris, PhD, an integrative physiology professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Norris' team reported in 2006 that native male fish in Boulder Creek decreased in numbers with respect to females and numerous intersex fish were found downstream of the wastewater treatment plant. After a technology upgrade to the wastewater treatment plant in 2008, the reproductive disruption in the fish was far less pronounced. However, Norris said the study results should still concern people.

"The fish are a wake-up call," Norris said. "Our bodies and those of the much more sensitive human fetus are being exposed everyday to a variety of chemicals that are capable of altering not only our development and physiology but that of future generations as well."

With other scientists, Norris studied samples of the wastewater effluent, the plant-treated water that enters the stream and becomes another city's drinking water. Grants from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the city of Boulder supported this research.

They found other endocrine disrupters, including synthetic and natural reproductive steroids. They believe the chemicals come from natural female hormones and birth control pills excreted via urine and from detergents, cosmetics and other consumer products flushed down toilets and drains. The amount of estrogens in the sampled effluent was enough to explain the effects on the fish "downstream" from the treatment plant—in the river below the plant, according to Norris. The researchers saw no signs of reproductive disruption in fish upstream.

Also, the investigators exposed adult male fathead minnows to wastewater effluent they diluted with water taken from upstream of the plant. After seven days' exposure to this water, the fish had suppressed male sex characteristics and greatly elevated levels of the protein vitellogenin. Female fish make vitellogenin under the influence of estrogens, and male fish produce very little of it, so elevated levels in males indicate estrogen exposure, Norris explained.

After the technology upgrade to the wastewater treatment plant in 2008, the effluent was considerably less estrogenic to the fish. After the treatment plant's upgrade, the minnows exhibited less intense loss of male sex characteristics, an initial analysis found. "It took 28 days to get a significant elevation in vitellogenin and then only in 100 percent effluent," Norris said. "However, these improvements seen in wildlife will not substantially lessen the risk to human health because drinking water is not the major source of estrogenic chemicals for people."

Aaron Lohr | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.endo-society.org

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht The Great Unknown: Risk-Taking Behavior in Adolescents
19.01.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

nachricht A sudden drop in outdoor temperature increases the risk of respiratory infections
11.01.2017 | University of Gothenburg

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New Study Will Help Find the Best Locations for Thermal Power Stations in Iceland

19.01.2017 | Earth Sciences

Not of Divided Mind

19.01.2017 | Life Sciences

Molecule flash mob

19.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>