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(Anti-)estrogenic and (anti-)androgenic effects in wastewater during advanced treatment: comparison of three in vitro bioassays

A Correction to this article was published on 26 April 2019

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Abstract

Endocrine-disrupting chemicals are mainly discharged into the environment by wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) and are known to induce adverse effects in aquatic life. Advanced treatment with ozone successfully removes such organic micropollutants, but an increase of estrogenic effects after the ozonation of hospital wastewater was observed in previous studies. In order to investigate this effect, estrogenic and androgenic as well as anti-estrogenic and anti-androgenic activities were observed during treatment of hospital wastewater using three different effect-based reporter gene bioassays. Despite different matrix influences, sensitivities, and test-specific properties, all assays used obtained comparable results. Estrogenic and androgenic activities were mainly reduced during the biological treatment and further removed during ozonation and sand filtration, resulting in non-detectable agonistic activities in the final effluent. An increased estrogenic activity after ozonation could not be observed in this study. Antagonistic effects were removed in the biological treatment by up to 50 % without further reduction in the advanced treatment. Due to the presence of antagonistic substances within the wastewater, masking effects were probable. Therefore, this study showed the relevance of antagonistic activities at hospital WWTPs and illustrates the need for a better understanding about antagonistic effects.

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Change history

  • 26 April 2019

    Linda Gehrmann and Helena Bielak contributed equally to this work and are regarded as joint first authors.

  • 26 April 2019

    Linda Gehrmann and Helena Bielak contributed equally to this work and are regarded as joint first authors.

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Acknowledgments

The authors would like to thank for financial support from the “Ministry for Climate Protection, Agriculture, Nature Conservation and Consumer Protection of North Rhine-Westphalia (MKULNV)” within the program „Ressourceneffiziente Abwasserbeseitigung NRW“ (AZ 17-04.02.01-04a/2013). We would also like to acknowledge Jan Oesterbeck from the North Rhine-Westphalia State Agency for Nature, Environment and Consumer Protection (LANUV NRW) for the great guidance and support during this project. Our special thanks for the support and helping hand during the operation and sampling belong to the dedicated personnel of Emschergenossenschaft/Lippeverband.

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Gehrmann, L., Bielak, H., Behr, M. et al. (Anti-)estrogenic and (anti-)androgenic effects in wastewater during advanced treatment: comparison of three in vitro bioassays. Environ Sci Pollut Res 25, 4094–4104 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-016-7165-4

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-016-7165-4

Keywords

  • Endocrine effects
  • Advanced wastewater treatment
  • Ozonation
  • Antagonistic effects
  • Reporter gene assays
  • Effect-based analysis
  • Micropollutant elimination