State Water Resources Research Institute Program

Project ID: 2011PA158B
Title: Fish Exposure to Emerging Contaminants in Municipal Wastewater: Can Dietary Sewage Contribution Predict Severity of Estrogenic Effects?
Project Type: Research
Start Date: 3/01/2011
End Date: 2/29/2012
Congressional District: 19
Focus Categories: Ecology, Wastewater, Water Quality
Keywords: emerging contaminants, pharmaceuticals, endocrine disruption, estrogenic effects, intersexuality, reproductive anomalies in fish, municipal wastewater, stable isotopes, white sucker, Catostomus commersoni
Principal Investigator: Light, Theo
Federal Funds: $ 9,616
Non-Federal Matching Funds: $ 21,820
Abstract: Emerging contaminants in Pennsylvania waters include numerous pharmaceuticals, personal care products, and other common chemicals with potential endocrine activity, even at low concentration. Recent concern about these contaminants has focused on their presence and concentration in treated wastewater and on their effects on wildlife, particularly fish. We propose to survey fish (white sucker, Catostomus commersoni) for reproductive anomalies in sites upstream and downstream of several south-central Pennsylvania wastewater treatment plants that discharge into small streams. All three streams have been identified in a recent USGS survey as containing detectable but varying levels of multiple pharmaceuticals and antibiotics in effluent-influenced sites. We further propose to analyze tissues of collected fish for stable isotopes of carbon and nitrogen in order to determine the proportion of fish diets directly or indirectly derived from sewage-derived organic matter. By examining associations of the severity of reproductive anomalies with a well-established measure of dietary exposure to sewage effluent, and also with USGS contaminant measures in each stream, we hope to establish a robust link between exposure to effluent-derived pharmaceuticals and markers of estrogen disruption in fish.

Progress/Completion Report, 2011, PDF

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