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Fate of 4-nonylphenol and 17β-estradiol in the Redwood River of Minnesota

January 1, 2012

The majority of previous research investigating the fate of endocrine-disrupting compounds has focused on single processes generally in controlled laboratory experiments, and limited studies have directly evaluated their fate and transport in rivers. This study evaluated the fate and transport of 4-nonylphenol, 17β-estradiol, and estrone in a 10-km reach of the Redwood River in southwestern Minnesota. The same parcel of water was sampled as it moved downstream, integrating chemical transformation and hydrologic processes. The conservative tracer bromide was used to track the parcel of water being sampled, and the change in mass of the target compounds relative to bromide was determined at two locations downstream from a wastewater treatment plant effluent outfall. In-stream attenuation coefficients (kstream) were calculated by assuming first-order kinetics (negative values correspond to attenuation, whereas positive values indicate production). Attenuation of 17β-estradiol (kstream = −3.2 ± 1.0 day–1) was attributed primarily due to sorption and biodegradation by the stream biofilm and bed sediments. Estrone (kstream = 0.6 ± 0.8 day–1) and 4-nonylphenol (kstream = 1.4 ± 1.9 day–1) were produced in the evaluated 10-km reach, likely due to biochemical transformation from parent compounds (17β-estradiol, 4-nonylphenolpolyethoxylates, and 4-nonyphenolpolyethoxycarboxylates). Despite attenuation, these compounds were transported kilometers downstream, and thus additive concentrations from multiple sources and transformation of parent compounds into degradates having estrogenic activity can explain their environmental persistence and widespread observations of biological disruption in surface waters.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2012
Title Fate of 4-nonylphenol and 17β-estradiol in the Redwood River of Minnesota
DOI 10.1021/es2031664
Authors Jeffrey H. Writer, Joseph N. Ryan, Steffanie H. Keefe, Larry B. Barber
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Environmental Science & Technology
Index ID 70032656
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization National Research Program - Central Branch