Submitted to: Science of the Total Environment
Publication Type: Peer reviewed journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/8/2013
Publication Date: 7/10/2013
Citation: Asem-Hiablie, S., Church, C., Elliott, H.A., Shappell, N.W., Schoenfuss, H.L., Drechsel, P., Williams, C.F., Knopf, A.L., Dabie, M.Y. 2013. Serum estrogenicity and biological responses in African catfish raised in wastewater ponds in Ghana. Science of the Total Environment. 463-464. p.1182-1191. Interpretive Summary: Reusing wastewaters is an important component of the sustainable management of water, particularly in the developing world where resources are limited. We sought to test whether there were biological effects of reusing wastewater in aquaculture by comparing tissues from African catfish grown in wastewater in Ghana. Similarities in various measures of body indices between fish of this study and African catfish from other freshwater systems suggest that the reuse of treated municipal wastewater may be amenable for use in aquaculture in some cases. However, further studies on the effects of other growth and reproductive modulating compounds such as androgens should be studied in such systems.
Technical Abstract: Reuse of wastewater for aquaculture improves efficient use of water and promotes sustainability but the potential effects of endocrine disrupting compounds including estrogens in wastewater is an emerging challenge that needs to be addressed. We examined the biological effects of wastewater-borne estrogens on African catfish (Clarias gariepinus) raised in a wastewater stabilization pond (WSP) of a functioning municipal wastewater treatment plant, a wastewater polishing holding pond (WWP) of a dysfunctional treatment plant, and a reference pond (RP) unimpacted by wastewater, located in Ghana. Measurements of estrogen concentrations in pond water by liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry showed mean 17 beta-estradiol concentrations were higher in the wastewater ponds (WWP, 6.6 ng/L +/- 2.7 ng/L; WSP, 4.9 ng/L +/- 1.0) than the reference (RP, 3.4 +/- 1.1 ng/L). Estrone concentrations were found to be highest in the WSP (7.8 ng/L +/- 1.7) and lowest in the WWP (2.3 ng/L +/- 2.4) with the RP intermediate (4.7 +/- 5.0). Fish serum estrogenicity assayed by E-SCREEN was significantly higher in female vs. male catfish in the RP and WSP but not in the WWP (p = 0.05). Histological examination of liver and gonad tissue showed no apparent signs of intersex or pathology. The similarities in various measures of body indices between fish of this study and African catfish from other freshwater systems suggest that the reuse of treated municipal wastewater may be amenable for use in aquaculture in some cases.