Grover, D. (2008). Endocrine disruption – a pain in the backside?. PHILICA.COM Observation number 47.
Endocrine disruption – a pain in the backside?

Darren Groverunconfirmed user (Biology & Environmental Science, University of Sussex)

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The field of Endocrine disruption has been growing significantly since its discovery in the latter part of the twentieth century. Of particular interest are estrogens – estrone (E1), estradiol (E2), and the contraceptive pill, 17?-ethinylestradiol (EE2). A high proportion of published papers relate to analytical techniques, most commonly using GC-MS or LC-MS, and more recently, tandem variations of these.

Of those papers which contain concentrations of environmental samples, they are often significantly above levels which could be reasonably predicted, given local population sizes and other modelling parameters. A particularly notable example of this can be found in Kolpin et al., 2002, it being one of the most highly cited papers in the field of environmental science. However, even recent publications report concentrations far in excess of what is reasonable, particularly for EE2. In a hypothetical, typical waste water treatment plant, EE2 concentrations <1ng/l in its effluent are typical, Indeed, concentrations of 0.5ng/l are considered high, yet several papers report concentrations above 100ng/l.

One might ask how these articles pass peer-review, and it is my suggestion that this is because it that the peer reviewers are also be analytical chemists – unaware of what ‘reasonable’ be, particularly when recoveries and spiking experiments look good, with clean chromatograms. It is not until analytical chemists and researchers from other disciplines such as biology or modelling collaborate, that these kinds of issues are noticed.

Endocrine disruptors, particularly E1, E2 and EE2 are notably difficult to analyze compared to other classes of pollutant - E2 readily converts to E1, and EE2 is susceptible to co-elution with an unknown substance, possibly humic in nature. Standard sample preparation techniques, such as solid-phase extraction (SPE) are insufficient, even where tandem mass spectrometric techniques are used.

Observation circumstances
This work took place as part of the multidisciplinary, multi-institutional, Endocrine Disruptors in Catchments (EDCAT) project.

Kolpin, DW, Furlong, ET, Meyer, MT, Thurman, EM, Zaugg, SD, Barber, LB, Buxton, HT (2002) Pharmaceuticals, hormones, and other organic wastewater contaminants in US streams, 1999-2000: A national reconnaissance, ENVIRON SCI TECHNOL (36).

Information about this Observation
This Observation has not yet been peer-reviewed

Published on Friday 25th April, 2008 at 00:15:32.

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The full citation for this Observation is:
Grover, D. (2008). Endocrine disruption – a pain in the backside?. PHILICA.COM Observation number 47.

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