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Estrogens from sewage in coastal marine environments.

By Shannon Atkinson, Marlin J Atkinson and Ann M Tarrant

Abstract

Estrogens are ancient molecules that act as hormones in vertebrates and are biologically active in diverse animal phyla. Sewage contains natural and synthetic estrogens that are detectable in streams, rivers, and lakes. There are no studies reporting the distribution of steroidal estrogens in marine environments. We measured estrogens in sewage, injection-well water, and coastal tropical and offshore tropical water in the Pacific Ocean, western Atlantic Ocean, and Caribbean Sea. Concentrations of unconjugated estrone ranged from undetectable (< 40 pg/L) in the open ocean to nearly 2,000 pg/L in Key West, Florida, and Rehoboth Bay, Delaware (USA); estrone concentrations were highest near sources of sewage. Enzymatic hydrolysis of steroid conjugates in seawater samples indicated that polar conjugates comprise one-half to two-thirds of "total estrone" (unconjugated plus conjugated) in Hawaiian coastal samples. Adsorption to basalt gravel and carbonate sand was less than 20% per week and indicates that estrogens can easily leach into the marine environment from septic fields and high-estrogen groundwater. Of 20 sites (n = 129 samples), the mean values from 12 sites were above the threshold concentration for uptake into coral, indicating that there is a net uptake of anthropogenic steroidal estrogen into these environments, with unknown impacts

Topics: Research Article
Year: 2003
OAI identifier: oai:pubmedcentral.nih.gov:1241440
Provided by: PubMed Central

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