In vitro bioassays to screen for endocrine active pharmaceuticals in surface and waste waters
In the context of the European Water Framework Directive (WFD) it is fully recognized that pharmaceuticals can represent a relevant issue for the achievement of the good chemical and ecological status of European surface water bodies. The recent European Directive on the review of priority substances in surface water bodies has included three pharmaceuticals of widespread use (diclofenac, 17 alpha-ethinylestradiol (EE2), 17 beta-estradiol (E2)) in the European monitoring list, the so-called watch list. Endocrine active pharmaceuticals such as EE2 and E2 (also occurring as natural hormone) can cause adverse effects on aquatic ecosystems at very low levels. However, monitoring of these pharmaceuticals within the watch list mechanism of the WFD and national monitoring programs can be difficult because of detection problems of most routine analytical methods. With proposed annual average Environmental Quality Standards (AA-EQS) of 0.035 ng/L and 0.4 ng/L, respectively, the estrogenic pharmaceutical EE2 and the natural hormone E2 are among those substances. Sensitive in vitro bioassays could reduce the current detection problems by measuring the estrogenic activity of environmental samples. In a short review article the application of this approach to screen and assess the risks of endocrine active pharmaceuticals with a focus on estrogenic pharmaceuticals in environmental waters is discussed. (C) 2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.