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Biodegradation and attenuation of steroidal hormones and alkylphenols by stream biofilms and sediments

April 26, 2011

Biodegradation of select endocrine-disrupting compounds (17β-estradiol, estrone, 17α-ethynylestradiol, 4-nonylphenol, 4-nonylphenolmonoexthoylate, and 4-nonylphenoldiethoxylate) was evaluated in stream biofilm, sediment, and water matrices collected from locations upstream and downstream from a wastewater treatment plant effluent discharge. Both biologically mediated transformation to intermediate metabolites and biologically mediated mineralization were evaluated in separate time interval experiments. Initial time intervals (0–7 d) evaluated biodegradation by the microbial community dominant at the time of sampling. Later time intervals (70 and 185 d) evaluated the biodegradation potential as the microbial community adapted to the absence of outside energy sources. The sediment matrix was more effective than the biofilm and water matrices at biodegrading 4-nonylphenol and 17β-estradiol. Biodegradation by the sediment matrix of 17α-ethynylestradiol occurred at later time intervals (70 and 185 d) and was not observed in the biofilm or water matrices. Stream biofilms play an important role in the attenuation of endocrine-disrupting compounds in surface waters due to both biodegradation and sorption processes. Because sorption to stream biofilms and bed sediments occurs on a faster temporal scale (<1 h) than the potential to biodegrade the target compounds (50% mineralization at >185 d), these compounds can accumulate in stream biofilms and sediments.

Publication Year 2011
Title Biodegradation and attenuation of steroidal hormones and alkylphenols by stream biofilms and sediments
DOI 10.1021/es2000134
Authors Jeffrey Writer, Larry B. Barber, Joseph N. Ryan, Paul M. Bradley
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Environmental Science & Technology
Index ID 70171002
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Toxic Substances Hydrology Program; National Research Program - Central Branch