Identification and quantification of estrogen receptor agonists in wastewater effluents

S. A. Snyder, D. L. Villeneuve, E. M. Snyder, J. P. Giesy

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300 Scopus citations


Total concentrations of several known xenobiotic estrogen receptor (ER) agonists and natural and synthetic estrogen were measured in water by use of a combination of instrumental and bioanalytical approaches. Samples from 3 municipal wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) in south central Michigan (upstream and effluent); 4 point source locations on the Trenton Channel of the Detroit River, MI; and 5 locations in Lake Mead, NV were analyzed. Organic compounds were extracted from 5 L water samples using solid-phase extraction disks and separated into three fractions based on polarity. Whole extracts and fractions were tested for ER agonist potency using the MVLN in vitro bioassay. ER agonist potency was characterized by comparing the magnitude of induction elicited by the extract or fraction to the maximum induction caused by 17β-estradiol (E2). The greatest concentrations of ER agonists were associated with the most polar fraction (F3). Instrumental analyses and further fractionation were used to identify specific ER agonists associated with bioassay responses. Bioassay data were compared to extract concentrations in order minimize variability associated with the extraction procedure. Concentrations of endogenous estrogen, E2, and the synthetic estrogen ethynylestradiol (EE2) ranged from nondetectable to 14.6 ng/mL extract (nondetectable to 3.66 ng/L water) and represented from 88 to 99.5% of the total estrogen equivalents in the water samples analyzed. Concentrations of alkylphenols (APs) ranged from nondetectable to 148 μg/mL extract (nondetectable to 37 000 ng/L water). In general, alkylphenols contributed less than 0.5% of the total estrogen equivalents in the water samples. Both bioassay-directed fractionation results and comparison of ER agonist concentrations, adjusted for their known relative potencies, support the conclusion that E2 and EE2 were the dominant environmental estrogens in water samples from mid-Michigan and Lake Mead, NV.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3620-3625
Number of pages6
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number18
StatePublished - Sep 15 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry


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