The occurrence and risk assessment of phenolic endocrine-disrupting chemicals in Egypt’s drinking and source water

  • Emad K. RadwanEmail author
  • M. B.M. Ibrahim
  • Ahmed Adel
  • Mohamed Farouk
Research Article


This is the first nationwide survey of bisphenol A (BPA), methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, and o-phenylphenol, in Egypt’s water. Five hundred fifty-five water samples were collected from source water (SW, 109 samples) and drinking water (DW, 446 samples) of twenty-three Egyptian governorates. These chemicals were determined by direct ultra-performance liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry (UPLC–MS/MS) analysis of a filtered aliquot of samples. The impacts of the measured concentrations on the aquatic organisms and human health were evaluated as well. BPA, methylparaben, propylparaben, and butylparaben were frequently detected in SW and DW, while ethylparaben and o-phenylphenol were not detected whatsoever. The most frequently detected endocrine-disrupting chemical (EDC) was BPA in SW and methylparaben in DW. The recorded highest concentrations of BPA and methylparaben in SW and BPA and methylparaben, propylparaben, and butylparaben in DW were the highest worldwide. Of the investigated twenty-three governorates, the SW and DW of Aswan, Red Sea, Cairo, Sharqia, and Damietta were free of the studied EDCs. Contrarily, BPA, MeP, PrP, and BuP were detected in Sohag’s SW and DW. A detection ratio > 70% was recorded in SW of Faiyum, Dakahlia, and Ismailia, and > 90% in DW of Sohag, Port Said, Dakahlia, and Faiyum. The environmental risk assessment results excluded any human health risk even in the worst-case scenario and showed that BPA represents the highest risk to the aquatic organisms.


Contaminants of emerging concern Pharmaceuticals Personal care products Bisphenol A Parabens 



The authors thank the staff of the Reference Laboratory for drinking water for providing the facilities to achieve this work.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflicts of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

11356_2019_6887_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (374 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 374 kb)


  1. Abdel-Satar AM, Ali MH, Goher ME (2017) Indices of water quality and metal pollution of Nile River, Egypt. Egypt J Aquat Res 43:21–29. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Archer E, Petrie B, Kasprzyk-Hordern B, Wolfaardt GM (2017) The fate of pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs), endocrine disrupting contaminants (EDCs), metabolites and illicit drugs in a WWTW and environmental waters. Chemosphere 174:437–446. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Aristizabal-Ciro C, Botero-Coy AM, López FJ, Peñuela GA (2017) Monitoring pharmaceuticals and personal care products in reservoir water used for drinking water supply. Environ Sci Pollut Res 24:7335–7347CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Ashfaq M, Sun Q, Zhang H, Li Y, Wang Y, Li M, Lv M, Liao X, Yu CP (2018) Occurrence and fate of bisphenol A transformation products, bisphenol A monomethyl ether and bisphenol A dimethyl ether, in wastewater treatment plants and surface water. J Hazard Mater 357:401–407. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Asimakopoulos AG, Elangovan M, Kannan K (2016) Migration of parabens, bisphenols, benzophenone-type UV filters, triclosan, and triclocarban from teethers and its implications for infant exposure. Environ Sci Technol 50:13539–13547. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Attia BB (2018) Securing Water resources for Egypt: a major challenge for policy planners. In: Negm AM (ed) Unconventional water resources and agriculture in Egypt. The Handbook of Environmental Chemistry, vol 75. Springer, Cham. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Canesi L, Fabbri E (2015) Environmental effects of BPA: focus on aquatic species. Dose-Response 13:1559325815598304CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Careghini A, Mastorgio AF, Saponaro S, Sezenna E (2015) Bisphenol A, nonylphenols, benzophenones, and benzotriazoles in soils, groundwater, surface water, sediments, and food: a review. Environ Sci Pollut Res 22:5711–5741CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Česen M, Ahel M, Terzić S, Heath DJ, Heath E (2019) The occurrence of contaminants of emerging concern in Slovenian and Croatian wastewaters and receiving Sava river. Sci Total Environ 650:2446–2453. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Chen J, Hartmann EM, Kline J, Van Den Wymelenberg K, Halden RU (2018) Assessment of human exposure to triclocarban, triclosan and five parabens in U.S. indoor dust using dispersive solid phase extraction followed by liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry. J Hazard Mater 360:623–630. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. El Wasif AES, El Dafrawy SM, Moalla SNED, El Defrawy M (2019) Health risk assessment of dissolved heavy metals in some selected water samples: Dakahlia, Egypt. Int J Appl Chem 15:15–19Google Scholar
  12. EMA E (2018) Guideline on the environmental risk assessment of medicinal products for human use - Revision 1.Google Scholar
  13. Esteban S, Gorga M, González-Alonso S, Petrovic M, Barceló D, Valcárcel Y (2014) Monitoring endocrine disrupting compounds and estrogenic activity in tap water from Central Spain. Environ Sci Pollut Res 21:9297–9310CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Fan Z, Hu J, An W, Yang M (2013) Detection and occurrence of chlorinated byproducts of bisphenol a, nonylphenol, and estrogens in drinking water of china: comparison to the parent compounds. Environ Sci Technol 47:10841–10850. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Furlong ET, Batt AL, Glassmeyer ST, Noriega MC, Kolpin DW, Mash H, Schenck KM (2017) Nationwide reconnaissance of contaminants of emerging concern in source and treated drinking waters of the United States. Pharma Sci Total Environ 579:1629–1642. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Gros M, Petrović M, Ginebreda A, Barceló D (2010) Removal of pharmaceuticals during wastewater treatment and environmental risk assessment using hazard indexes. Environ Int 36:15–26. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Guo Y, Kannan K (2013) A survey of phthalates and parabens in personal care products from the United States and its implications for human exposure. Environ Sci Technol 47:14442–14449. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Guo Y, Wang L, Kannan K (2014) Phthalates and parabens in personal care products from China: concentrations and human exposure. Arch Environ Contam Toxicol 66:113–119CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Haman C, Dauchy X, Rosin C, Munoz JF (2015) Occurrence, fate and behavior of parabens in aquatic environments: a review. Water Res 68:1–11. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hu R, Xiao X, Tu S, Zuo X, Nan J (2015) Synthesis of flower-like heterostructured β-Bi2O3/Bi2O2CO3 microspheres using Bi2O2CO3 self-sacrifice precursor and its visible-light-induced photocatalytic degradation of o-phenylphenol. Appl Catal B Environ 163:510–519. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Jin H, Zhu L (2016) Occurrence and partitioning of bisphenol analogues in water and sediment from Liaohe River Basin and Taihu Lake, China. Water Res 103:343–351. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Kortenkamp A (2017) Endocrine disruptors: The burden of endocrine-disrupting chemicals in the USA. Nat Rev Endocrinol 13:6–7CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Li W, Gao L, Shi Y, Wang Y, Liu J, Cai Y (2016) Spatial distribution, temporal variation and risks of parabens and their chlorinated derivatives in urban surface water in Beijing, China. Sci Total Environ 539:262–270. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Li W, Shi Y, Gao L, Liu J, Cai Y (2015) Occurrence, fate and risk assessment of parabens and their chlorinated derivatives in an advanced wastewater treatment plant. J Hazard Mater 300:29–38. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Liang L, Zhang J, Feng P, Li C, Huang Y, Dong B, Li L, Guan X (2015) Occurrence of bisphenol A in surface and drinking waters and its physicochemical removal technologies. Front Environ Sci Eng 9:16–38. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Liao C, Chen L, Kannan K (2013a) Occurrence of parabens in foodstuffs from China and its implications for human dietary exposure. Environ Int 57-58:68–74. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Liao C, Liu F, Kannan K (2013b) Occurrence of and dietary exposure to parabens in foodstuffs from the united states. Environ Sci Technol 47:3918–3925. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Ma W-L, Zhao X, Lin ZY, Mohammed MO, Zhang ZF, Liu LY, Song WW, Li YF (2016) A survey of parabens in commercial pharmaceuticals from China and its implications for human exposure. Environ Int 95:30–35. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Machado KC et al (2016) A preliminary nationwide survey of the presence of emerging contaminants in drinking and source waters in Brazil. Sci Total Environ 572:138–146. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Mahmoud MA et al (2016) Infectious bacterial pathogens, parasites and pathological correlations of sewage pollution as an important threat to farmed fishes in Egypt. Environ Pollut 219:939–948. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Nowak K, Ratajczak-Wrona W, Górska M, Jabłońska E (2018) Parabens and their effects on the endocrine system. Mol Cell Endocrinol 474:238–251. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Olak-Kucharczyk M, Miller J, Ledakowicz S (2013) Decomposition of meta-and para-phenylphenol during ozonation process. Chem Pap 67:1157–1163CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Olak-Kucharczyk M, Miller JS, Ledakowicz S (2012) Ozonation kinetics of o-phenylphenol in aqueous solutions. Ozone Sci Eng 34:300–305CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Omar MEDM, Moussa AMA (2016) Water management in Egypt for facing the future challenges. J Adv Res 7:403–412. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Pereira LC, de Souza AO, Bernardes MFF, Pazin M, Tasso MJ, Pereira PH, Dorta DJ (2015) A perspective on the potential risks of emerging contaminants to human and environmental health. Environ Sci Pollut Res 22:13800–13823CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Riva F, Castiglioni S, Fattore E, Manenti A, Davoli E, Zuccato E (2018) Monitoring emerging contaminants in the drinking water of Milan and assessment of the human risk. Int J Hyg Environ Health 221:451–457. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Riva F, Zuccato E, Davoli E, Fattore E, Castiglioni S (2019) Risk assessment of a mixture of emerging contaminants in surface water in a highly urbanized area in Italy. J Hazard Mater 361:103–110. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Rudel RA, Camann DE, Spengler JD, Korn LR, Brody JG (2003) Phthalates, alkylphenols, pesticides, polybrominated diphenyl ethers, and other endocrine-disrupting compounds in indoor air and dust. Environ Sci Technol 37:4543–4553. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Shafei A et al (2018) Stop eating plastic, molecular signaling of bisphenol A in breast cancer. Environ Sci Pollut Res:1–7Google Scholar
  40. Soni MG, Carabin IG, Burdock GA (2005) Safety assessment of esters of p-hydroxybenzoic acid (parabens). Food Chem Toxicol 43:985–1015. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Soni MG, Taylor SL, Greenberg NA, Burdock GA (2002) Evaluation of the health aspects of methyl paraben: a review of the published literature. Food Chem Toxicol 40:1335–1373. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Tapia-Orozco N, Santiago-Toledo G, Barrón V, Espinosa-García AM, García-García JA, García-Arrazola R (2017) Environmental epigenomics: current approaches to assess epigenetic effects of endocrine disrupting compounds (EDC’s) on human health. Environ Toxicol Pharmacol. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. USEPA (2011) Exposure factors handbook. Office of Research and Development, Washington, 2011th edn. National Centre for Environmental Assessement, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  44. Wang B et al (2016) Phenolic endocrine disrupting chemicals in an urban receiving river (Panlong river) of Yunnan-Guizhou plateau: occurrence, bioaccumulation and sources. Ecotoxicol Environ Saf 128:133–142. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Zgoła-Grześkowiak A, Jeszka-Skowron M, Czarczyńska-Goślińska B, Grześkowiak T (2016) Determination of parabens in Polish river and lake water as a function of season. Anal Lett 49:1734–1747. CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Water Pollution Research DepartmentNational Research CentreGizaEgypt
  2. 2.Reference Laboratory for Drinking Water, Holding Company for Water and WastewaterShubra El-Khima Water Treatment PlantCairoEgypt

Personalised recommendations