Estrogenic effects along the river saale



Sediments along the river Saale, one of the main tributaries of the river Elbe, were characterized with the yeast estrogen screen to elucidate possible sources of endocrine-disrupting compounds that might contribute to the downstream contamination of the river Elbe. At two sampling sites, elevated levels of estrogenic activity up to 55,000 ng ethinylestradiol equivalents per kilogram sediment dry weight were detected in the respective sediment extracts. Aliquots of the sediment extracts were analyzed for 4-nonylphenols and natural steroidal estrogens as possible candidates with an estrogenic potential. The maximal concentrations of 4-iso-nonylphenol and estrone were 115 mg/kg dry weight and 20 µg/kg dry weight at the sampling site Luppe, which showed in accordance the highest biological activity. Under consideration of compound concentration and compound specific estrogenic activity the 4-iso-nonylphenols contributed most to the observed estrogenic effect. A strong correlation between the measured estrogenic activity and the concentration of the sediment-associated 4-iso-nonylphenol underlines the relevance of this compound class as a xenoestrogen in the catchment area of the river Saale. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 2013;32:526–534. © 2012 SETAC