Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract only
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/5/2010
Publication Date: 11/5/2010
Citation: Maragos, C.M. 2010. Zearalenone occurrence in surface waters in Central Illinois, USA. Meeting Abstract. Interpretive Summary:
Technical Abstract: Exposure to environmental estrogens can occur through a variety of routes. Most obvious is through consumption of contaminated foods or minimally processed commodities such as cereal grains. There are also less obvious routes, including through inhalation, from drinking water, and from secondary or indirect exposure through the consumption of the tissues (milk, meat) of domestic animals. Because of the many potential sources and routes of exposure, the exposure to zearalenone (ZEA) and related metabolites is multifaceted. ZEA may occur in water through run-off from contaminated fields and has been detected in a variety of waters including drainage water, river water, at wastewater treatment plants, and in groundwater. Countries where it has been detected in water include Italy, Switzerland, Poland, and Portugal. Generally the levels detected have been quite low, with maximum levels ranging from 15 ng/L to 44 ng/L. The level of contamination can depend upon the level of contamination of crops planted nearby and the assessment period. We have been investigating the occurrence of ZEA in several types of surface waters collected from an area in the central part of the state of Illinois, USA. In order to determine the concentrations of ZEA at such very low (parts per trillion) levels, we have developed an improved method for isolating the toxin from large volumes of water. The method is based upon concentration using hydrophobic solid phase extraction disks followed by isolation with commercial immunoaffinity columns. Purified extracts are subjected to high performance liquid chromatography and the ZEA is detected by either fluorescence or UV absorbance. The limit of detection of the method was 0.5 ng/L. Preliminary data, collected over a period of eight months, has indicated that contamination with ZEA can occur in surface waters in central Illinois. However, because of the very low concentrations that have been found, the contribution to human exposures from drinking water contaminated with ZEA is expected to be quite low. The significance may be to aquatic or soil-dwelling animals that may have additional routes of exposure and which may be exposed to multiple environmental estrogens simultaneously.