Site-specific profiles of estrogenic activity in agricultural areas of California's inland waters

Ramon Lavado, Jorge E. Loyo-Rosales, Emily Floyd, Edward P. Kolodziej, Shane A. Snyder, David L. Sedlak, Daniel Schlenk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


To evaluate the occurrence and sources of compounds capable of feminizing fish in agriculturally impacted waterways of the Central Valley of California, water samples were extracted and subjected to chemical analyses as well as in vitro and in vivo measurements of vitellogenin in juvenile rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss). Among the 16 sites sampled, 6 locations frequently exhibited elevated concentrations of estrogenic substances with 17β-estradiol equivalents up to 242 ng/L in vitro and 12 μ g/kg in vivo. The patterns of activity varied among sites, with two sites showing elevated activity only in vitro, two showing elevated activity only in vivo, and two showing elevated activity in both assays. Sequential elution of solid-phase extraction (SPE) disks followed by bioassay-guided fractionation was used to characterize water samples from the two locations where activity was observed in both bioassays. The highest estrogenic activity was observed in the most nonpolar fractions (80-100% methanol eluent) from the Napa River, while most of the activity in the Sacramento River Delta eluted in the 60% methanol eluent. Quantitative analyses of SPE extracts and additional HPLC fractionation of the SPE extractsbyGC-MS/MSandLC-MS/MSindicatedconcentrations of steroid hormones, alkylphenol polyethoxylates, and herbicides that were at least 1-3 orders of magnitude below bioassay 17β-estradiol equivalent calculations. Given the different patterns of activity and chemical properties of the estrogenic compounds, it appears that estrogenic activity in these agriculturally impacted surface waters is attributable to multiple compounds. Further investigation is needed to identify the compounds causing the estrogenic activity and to determine the potential impacts of these compounds on feral fish.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9110-9116
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number24
StatePublished - Dec 15 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry


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