Efficient removal of estrogenic activity during oxidative treatment of waters containing steroid estrogens
The discharge of synthetic and natural steroid estrogens from municipal wastewaters to the aquatic environment has received increased attention because of their potential reproductive effects on fish. Using 17 alpha-ethinylestradiol (EE2) as a representative steroid estrogen, several oxidants applied in wastewater treatment (chlorine, bromine, ozone, hydroxyl radical, chlorine dioxide, and ferrate) were shown to selectively and rapidly transform EE2. For typically applied oxidant doses, these transformations occur in the time range of seconds to minutes. The resulting initial transformation products of EE2 exhibit a substantially lower in vitro estrogenic activity (< 13% of EE2). For selected structural derivatives of EE2, a quantitative structure-activity relationship was established between substituents changed on the phenolic moiety and the relative in vitro estrogenic activity. In addition,the initial EE2 transformation products that still exhibit residual estrogenic activity are quickly further transformed by most of the tested oxidants. Therefore, oxidative wastewater treatment may serve as a powerful tool to remove estrogenic activity induced by steroid estrogens.