Reproductive responses of male fathead minnows exposed to wastewater treatment plant effluent, effluent treated with XAD8 resin, and an environmentally relevant mixture of alkylphenol compounds

Larry B Barber, Kathy E Lee, Deborah L Swackhamer, Heiko L Schoenfuss
Aquatic Toxicology 2007 April 20, 82 (1): 36-46
On-site, continuous-flow experiments were conducted during August and October 2002 at a major metropolitan wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) to determine if effluent exposure induced endocrine disruption as manifested in the reproductive competence of sexually mature male fathead minnows (Pimephales promelas). The fathead minnows were exposed in parallel experiments to WWTP effluent and WWTP effluent treated with XAD8 macroreticular resin to remove the hydrophobic-neutral fraction which contained steroidal hormones, alkylphenolethoxylates (APEs), and other potential endocrine disrupting compounds (EDCs). The effluent composition varied on a temporal scale and the continuous-flow experiments captured the range of chemical variability that occurred during normal WWTP operations. Exposure to WWTP effluent resulted in vitellogenin induction in male fathead minnows, with greater response in October than in August. Concentrations of ammonia, APEs, 17beta-estradiol, and other EDCs also were greater in October than in August, reflecting a change in effluent composition. In the October experiment, XAD8 treatment significantly reduced vitellogenin induction in the male fathead minnows relative to the untreated effluent, whereas in August, XAD8 treatment had little effect. During both experiments, XAD8 treatment removed greater than 90% of the APEs. Exposure of fish to a mixture of APEs similar in composition and concentration to the WWTP effluent, but prepared in groundwater and conducted at a separate facility, elicited vitellogenin induction during both experiments. There was a positive relation between vitellogenin induction and hepatosomatic index (HSI), but not gonadosomatic index (GSI), secondary sexual characteristics index (SSCI), or reproductive competency. In contrast to expectations, the GSI and SSCI increased in males exposed to WWTP effluent compared to groundwater controls. The GSI, SSCI, and reproductive competency were positively affected by XAD8 treatment of the WWTP effluent.

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