|WOODWARD, EMILY - Pennsylvania State University|
|ANDWERS, DANIELLE - Pennsylvania State University|
|WATSON, JACK - Pennsylvania State University|
Submitted to: Journal of Environmental Quality
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/10/2015
Publication Date: 11/10/2014
Citation: Woodward, E.E., Andwers, D.M., Williams, C.F., Watson, J.E. 2014. Vadose zone transport of natural and synthetic estrogen hormones at Penn State's "Living Filter" wastewater irrigation site. Journal of Environmental Quality. 43(6):1933-1943.
Interpretive Summary: The presence of pharmaceuticals and endocrine disrupting compounds (EDCs) in the environment has increased over the last half-century. Estrogenic compounds have been found in surface waters across the United States. To protect surface water from contamination the Penn State Living Filter is a facility where treated municipal wastewater is spray irrigated onto agricultural fields. Soil samples were taken to quantify estrone, 17a-ethynylestradiol, and 17ß-estradiol accumulation in soil profiles under different land cover regimes (forested and cropped). Three main conclusions can be drawn from this study: (1) 17a-ethynylestradiol does not exceed background, which is good for the site because 17a-ethynylestradiol is one of the more potent estrogens, (2) 17ß-estradiol does exceed background at the site, and being another one of the more estrogenic compounds, future research will need to focus on this compound and its persistence at the site, (3) there are inherent properties associated with forested soils that are leading to higher concentrations of estrogens in these soils as compared to the cropped soils.
Technical Abstract: The increase in endocrine disrupting compounds (EDCs) in the environment has generated new research focused on the behavior of these compounds in natural soil and water ecosystems. To understand how estrogens behave in the soil environment as a result of 25+ years of wastewater irrigation, soils from Penn State’s “Living Filter” Wastewater Irrigation Site were extracted and analyzed for two natural estrogens (17ß-estradiol and estrone) and one synthetic estrogen (17a-ethynylestradiol). Soil estrogen concentrations were compared for two independent variables: type of land cover and sampling time. Soils were sampled from cropped and forested land areas and soils were sampled two days and three weeks after a single 12 hour effluent irrigation event. A non-irrigated control site was also sampled to provide natural background data. For 17ß-estradiol, the non-irrigated mean concentration was 0.68 (±0.11) ng cm-3, and the irrigated values, including samples from both land areas and time frames, ranged from 0.99 (±0.11) to 1.82 (±0.69) ng cm-3. For estrone, the non-irrigated mean concentration was 2.36 (±0.22) ng cm-3, and the irrigated values, including samples from both land areas collected three weeks after irrigation, ranged from 2.18 (±0.20) to 6.24 (±3.14) ng cm-3. The 17a-ethynylestradiol non-irrigated mean concentration was 0.47 (±0.40) ng cm-3. The irrigated values, including samples from both land areas and time frames, ranged from 0.25 (±0.06) to 1.37 (±0.39) ng cm-3. In at least one case for each compound, data showed that irrigation, time of sampling following irrigation and land use all had some effect on measured concentrations.