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Title: Endocrine disrupting alkylphenolic chemicals and other contaminants in wastewater treatment plant effluents, urban streams and fish in the Great Lakes Region and Upper Mississippi River

item BARBER, LARRY - Us Geological Survey (USGS)
item LOYO-ROSALES, JORGE - Ryerson University
item Rice, Clifford
item MINARIK, THOMAS - Metropolitan Water Reclamation District Of Greater Chicago (MWRD)
item OSKOUIE, ALI - Illinois Institute Of Technology

Submitted to: Science of the Total Environment
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/10/2015
Publication Date: 6/9/2015
Citation: Barber, L.B., Loyo-Rosales, J.E., Rice, C., Minarik, T.A., Oskouie, A. 2015. Endocrine disrupting alkylphenolic chemicals and other contaminants in wastewater treatment plant effluents, urban streams and fish in the Great Lakes Region and Upper Mississippi River. Science of the Total Environment. 517:195-206.

Interpretive Summary: This manuscript is a comprehensive analysis of water quality data collected over a decade to assess the occurrence and fate of alkylphenolic endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs), particularly 4-nonylphenol and 4-tert-octylphenol compounds. Other important wastewater contaminants, including ethylenediaminetetracetic acid, bisphenol A, and triclosan, also were evaluated. The occurrence and behavior of the organic contaminants were compared against a number of trace elements. The manuscript presents data at a variety of spatial and temporal scales including documenting the widespread and long-term occurrence of EDCs in wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) effluents and surface waters, their sources and fate during treatment at a major WWTP, the impact of WWTP effluents on receiving waterways, and bioaccumulation and endocrine disrupting effects on fish. The benchmark data are used to assess the potential implications of long-term and widespread contamination of surface water systems with alkylphenolic EDCs discharged with WWTP effluents. This study presents a unique decade-long water quality data set encompassing a large geographic area, and documents the occurrence of EDCs in WWTP effluents and receiving water bodies and their uptake by fish residing in the impacted waters. The chemical data presented in this paper allows a landscape-scale analysis using the source-to-receptor approach for an important class of EDCs. This data will directly assist public officials in implementation of cleanup priorities for waterways in the Chicago area.

Technical Abstract: Urban streams are an integral part of the municipal wastewater treatment process by providing a point of discharge for wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) effluents and additional attenuation through dilution and transformation processes. The receiving surface waters also are a conduit for contaminant transport to the next downstream user, be it municipality, ecosystem, or agriculture. Urban activities that dispose of liquid and solid wastes down the drain result in sewage wastewaters containing complex chemical mixtures that are only partially removed during treatment. This study provides a long-term (1999-2009) evaluation of the regional occurrence of contaminants discharged from municipal WWTPs into urban hydrological systems. The study focuses on endocrine disrupting alkylphenolic chemicals in the Great Lakes Region and Upper Mississippi River. Water samples were collected from 9 WWTPs in five states (Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, and Ohio). Detailed studies were conducted on the Greater Metropolitan Chicago Area Waterways, Illinois, to determine contaminant concentrations in the major WWTP effluents, after each treatment process within a single WWTP, sources within the sewer system feeding the WWTP, and in the receiving water downstream from the WWTP outfall. The water samples were analyzed for 4-nonylphenol (NP), 4-nonylphenolpolyethoxylates (NPEO), 4-nonylphenolethoxycarboxylic acids (NPEC), 4-tert¬octylphenol (OP), 4-tert-octylphenolpolyethoxylates (OPEO), bisphenol A, triclosan, ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA), and trace elements. The dominant contaminants measured in the WWTP effluents were EDTA and NPEC, with lower concentrations of NP, NPEO, OP, OPEO, bisphenol A, and triclosan. Several fish species were collected from multiple stream and lake sites and analyzed for NP, NPEO, NPEC, OP, and OPEO. Whole-body fish tissue analysis indicated widespread occurrence of alkyphenolic compounds, with the highest concentrations occurring in streams with the greatest wastewater effluent content. Biomarkers of endocrine disruption in the fish indicated exposure to estrogenic chemicals in the wastewater impacted urban waterways.