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Natural and Synthetic EDCs from Wastewater Treatment - source characterization, environmental fate, and risk management

Project Purpose:
Research Questions: Determine what are the major sources and environmental fates of EDCs natural and/or pharmaceutical additives. Determine how unreasonable risk can be managed. NRMRL's research program in risk management of endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) is determining the efficacy of existing risk management approaches to minimize exposure to suspected EDCs and developing new risk management tools where needed. Research has shown certain chemicals are suspected to have the ability to disrupt the endocrine systems of mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, and other fauna. The scientific literature shows that certain chemicals can mimic or elicit effects similar to estrogens and other reproductive hormones. Reports in the literature also demonstrate that wildlife in surface water near wastewater treatment outfalls can show effects consistent with exposure to estrogenic compounds. Other reports show that certain suspected EDCs, especially natural and pharmaceutical hormones and estrogenic alkylphenols are commonly present in wastewater treatment effluents and associated surface waters. These compounds are removed to varying degrees during WW treatment and are therefore, commonly found in the effluents following wastewater treatment.

Project Description(s):

Project Outcomes:
The results of this research can be used to help WWT operators understand the capability of their plants to remove EDCs, how process variables influence performance, and how to improve the operation of their plants to minimize effluent levels of EDCs. In the future, if EPA concludes that EDCs in effluents must be regulated, the Office of Water will require performance information on conventional and innovative treatment to make regulatory determinations.

Marc Mills at mills.marc@epa.gov

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