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 Win-win strategies for climate and food security
02.10.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

nachricht The personality factor: How to foster the sharing of research data
06.09.2017 | ZBW – Leibniz-Informationszentrum Wirtschaft

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: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Terahertz spectroscopy goes nano

20.10.2017 | Information Technology

Strange but true: Turning a material upside down can sometimes make it softer

20.10.2017 | Materials Sciences

NRL clarifies valley polarization for electronic and optoelectronic technologies

20.10.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>