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Project ID: 2005MA47B

Title: Monitoring Estrogenic Hormones - Undesired Fish Contraceptives, and Investigating Their Sources, Transportation and Fate in Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts

Project Type: Research

Start Date: 03/01/2006

End Date: 02/28/2007

Congressional District: 3rd Massachusetts

Focus Categories: Water Quality, Toxic Substances, Geochemical Processes

Keywords: Lake Pontchartrain, Floodwaters, Hurricanes, Impacts, Sampling, Water Quality Assessment

Principal Investigator: Zuo, Yuegang (University of Massachusetts Dartmouth)

Federal Funds: $25,000

Non-Federal Matching Funds: $55,642

Abstract: Estrogenic hormones and related synthetic steroid compounds, such as those used in contraceptive pills, have been shown to be present in the aquatic environment, mainly as a result of inefficient removal in waste-water-treatment plants. The concentrations of the compounds although very low (sub-ng to a few ng/L), are sufficient to induce estrogenic responses and alter the normal reproduction and development of wildlife organisms. Of estrogenic compounds, synthetic contraceptive steroids, such as 17a-ethinylestradiol (EE2), are found to be the most potent endocrine disruptor. It can cause feminization of male fish even at extremely low concentrations (e.g. 0.1 ng/L). The Buzzards Bay receives stormwater runoff, effluents from wastewater treatment facility of New Bedford, Fairhaven, Fall River and other surrounded towns. This leads to direct input of many different classes of pollutants, including endocrine-disrupting estrogenic hormones, through the sewage effluents and industrial wastewater. The combination of these estrogenic compounds and other pollutants can adversely affect plankton and fish, and could be related to the declines in lobster abundance in Buzzards Bay. To test this postulation, our preliminary study has shown that the concentration of 17a-ethinylestradiol and other estrogenic steroids were over 5 ng/L in Acushnet estuary seawater. In this proposed research, we will monitor these estrogenic hormones, investigate their sources, transportation and fate, and examine their potential role in the decline of lobster abundance in Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts. This includes the following main objectives: (1) to develop an SPE-GC-MS analytical method for the separation and quantitation of estrogenic hormones: estrone, 17b-estradiol, 17a-ethinylestradiol and mestranol; (2) to employ the analytical methods developed in this project to monitor estrogenic hormones: estrone, 17b-estradiol, 17a-ethinylestradiol and mestranol in New Bedford Harbor and Buzzards Bay Water; (3) to assess the microbial and photochemical fate of estrogenic hormones in the Buzzards Bay; (4) To train graduate and undergraduate students to use the techniques developed in this proposed project to monitor and protect our aquatic environment.

Progress/Completion Report, PDF

U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
Maintained by: John Schefter
Last Updated: Tuesday, January 15, 2008
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