Identification of Endocrine Disruptors in Coastal Waters.

Lead Pi: Robert Chen · 3/2001 - 2/2003

Project Personnel: Ana Soto

Project number: 2001-RC-78

Objectives:The Overall goal of this work is to determine the fate and effects of environmental endocrine disruptors in coastal marine ecosystems. OUr approach in these initial investigations will be to address the following three specific objectives:1. Establish sources and distributions of estrogen and androgen activity in Boston Harbor seawater and wastewaters entering Boston Harbor.2. Fractionate seawater and wastewater extracts in order to identify the compounds responsible for endocrine disrupting activity at environmentally relevant levels.3. Establish easily measured chemical indicators for endocrine disrupting activity in the marine environment.Methodology:Our overall strategy is to sample suspected sources of endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) to Boston Harbor, a heavily impacted urban estuary, and to determine the potential of these chemical mixtures for disrupting endocrine systems by relying on well established and extremely sensitive in vitro bioassays for estrogen and androgen activity. Once highly active extracts have been identified, several fractionation and isolation steps will separate the various chemical groups that are suspected EDCs. Further bioassays in combination with high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GCMS), and liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry (LCMS) analyses will allow the identification of the most potent EDCs present in Boston Harbor samples. Analysis of more readily measured indicators of endocrine disrupting activity may allow more routine monitoring of EDCs in coastal waters. Rationale:This research represents one of the first attempts to study the fate and effects of EDCs in the marine environment and, as such, may have major implications for the future production and disposal of synthetic drugs and industrial chemicals. Determination of the actual (not modeled) environmental fate of EDCs is the first step in assessing ecological impacts. By measuring EDC levels and conducting toxicological screening at realistic environmental concentrations, effects on organisms (and potentially populations and ecosystems) can be assessed. In combination with widescale in vivo monitoring, our in vitro methods can be used to assess the threat of EDCs to coastal ecosystem. This initial study will be invaluable in forming risk assessments and managing coastal ecosystems. In fact, if we find hormonal activity suggestive of the production of biological effects, we would like to collaborate with a wildlife biologist/toxicologist to assess the effects of EDCs on native fish in Boston Harbor.