Endocrine Disrupters in Sewage Effluents: Occurrence & Removal
Daniel Stalter, Johann Wolfgang Goethe University Frankfurt am Main
Municipal or industrial wastewater significantly contribute to the contamination of surface waters . In particular, concerns arose about endocrine disrupting compounds (EDCs), which, inter alia, affect the reproductive system of a variety of wild life species  – although they typically occur merely at trace level concentrations. Thus, EDCs in sewage treatment plant effluents gave rise to the implementation of advanced treatment steps for the elimination of trace organic contaminants. Ozonation and activated carbon ﬁltration provide effective barriers to a wide range of organic pollutants and can thus reduce the emission of EDCs via sewage treatment plant efﬂuents . To monitor the success of both technologies, we investigated their effects on endocrine activities through yeast based bioassays and an in vivo biotest using rainbow trout and vitellogenin induction as an estrogen-sensitive biomarker. Actually, both technologies revealed an effective reduction of hormone-like activities by up to 96% . Especially the reduction of estrogenicity and anti-androgenicity is supposed to be a relevant environmental benefit of advanced sewage treatment, as both contribute to the feminization of wild fish populations. However, toxic effects on test organisms indicated the formation of oxidation products during ozonation that were more toxic than precursor substances . Therefore, and because of the huge amount of resources required for advanced end-of-pipe treatment steps in broad scale application, more sustainable approaches are desirable in a long term perspective. For example, the identification of EDCs that are responsible for endocrine activities in surface waters, could provide the impetus for a more stringent source control of such hazardous substances to reduce their emission to the environment.
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