State Water Resources Research Institute Program


Project ID: 2007ME101B
Title: Biological Effects of Pharmaceutically Derived Estrogens from Wastewater Effluents in the Penobscot River, Maine
Project Type: Research
Start Date: 3/01/2007
End Date: 2/28/2008
Congressional District: ME-002
Focus Categories: Wastewater, Toxic Substances, Water Quality
Keywords: biomonitoring, wastewater, wastewater treatment, water quality monitoring, toxic substances
Principal Investigator: Mayer, Gregory
Federal Funds: $ 8,000
Non-Federal Matching Funds: $ 26,170
Abstract: The occurrence of pharmaceuticals and personal care products in the aquatic environment is of growing concern in the industrialized world. One class of pharmaceutically derived environmental contaminants includes the synthetic estrogens commonly found in oral contraceptives and hormone replacement therapies. Synthetic estrogens such as these mimic natural estrogens at the receptor level, but are more resistant to degradation by natural processes. Wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) handle domestic and industrial wastes in the state of Maine. Effluents from WWTPs are chemical mixtures that often contain a variety of xenoestrogens. Domestic wastewater treatment effluent can potentially contain significant levels of natural and synthetic hormones such as estradiol, estrone and ethinylestradiol. This application proposes the analysis of effluent from and water downstream of WWTPs on the Penobscot River, Maine. Initially, four local WWTPs will be utilized in studies to determine estrogenicity of effluent in differing types of treatment processes. Effluents will be analyzed from the Old Town, Orono, Veazie, and Bangor treatment facilities. These 24 hour composite samples will be analyzed for estrogen activity via a cell based reporter assay. Animal based studies will include treatment of zebrafish to whole effluents, mixing zone waters, and waters from selected transects downstream of the four treatment facilities listed above. Zebrafish exposures will last for seven days after which the fish will be sacrificed for analysis. Briefly, fish will be exposed to various test waters and mRNA transcript abundance will be determined for the estrogen-induced gene vitellogenin and the estrogen repressed gene CYP1A1. These indices will help us to determine the relative estrogenicity of effluents from differing treatment works along the Penobscot.

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