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Widespread endocrine activity in river sediments in Hesse, Germany, assessed by a combination of in vitro and in vivo bioassays

Galluba, Simone, Oehlmann, Jörg
Journal of soils and sediments 2012 v.12 no.2 pp. 252-264
Potamopyrgus antipodarum, androgens, bioassays, estrogenic properties, estrogens, humans, metals, organotin compounds, particulates, polychlorinated biphenyls, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, reproduction, rivers, sediment contamination, sediments, surface water, wildlife, yeasts, Germany
PURPOSE: There is a growing concern regarding the effects of endocrine disrupting compounds on humans and wildlife. Since some of them have the ability to bind to particulate matter, high concentrations can be reached in sediments of surface waters. The objective of this study was an assessment of 50 sediment samples from predominantly small rivers in the German federal state of Hesse with emphasis on endocrine activity. MATERIALS AND METHODS: The freshwater mudsnail Potamopyrgus antipodarum was exposed to whole sediments for 28 days with a subsequent evaluation of embryo production. Additionally, in vitro screens with sediment eluates for the detection of estrogenic (yeast estrogen screen, YES) and androgenic (yeast androgen screen, YAS) activities were conducted. Biotest results were compared with chemical analytical data (metals, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, polychlorinated biphenyls, organotin compounds), which were available for about half of the studied sites. RESULTS AND DISCUSSION: Seventy-eight percent of the sediments caused a significantly increased reproduction in the Potamopyrgus test, 66% were active in YES, and 68% were active in YAS. More than half of the sediments caused an increased reproduction in vivo and concurrently showed an estrogenic activity in vitro. No significant correlations could be established between biotest results and chemical analytical data. CONCLUSIONS: The results indicate that sediment contamination with endocrine active compounds is widespread, plays an important role in aquatic ecosystems, and should be the subject of further ecotoxicological investigation.