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ENDOCRINE DISRUPTING COMPOUNDS: A WATERSHED PERSPECTIVE

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A number of studies have confirmed the presence of Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs) in wastewater in sufficient quantity to cause hormonal changes in aquatic life. EDCs are compounds that can block, mimic, stimulate, or inhibit the production of natural hormones, disrupting the body's natural endocrine system, whic h controls our reproduction, growth, and development from functioning properly. EDCs are common in the environment because they are used in every aspect of our society. They can be found in pharmaceuticals, personal care products, industrial by-products, plastics, and pesticides. They are also commonly found in wastewater effluents.

Research on the treatment of EDCs in wastewater is just beginning. Several issues must be resolved before crucial decisions regarding management of this new class of pollutants can be made in the wastewater industry. First, many chemicals have not been evaluated as to their endocrine disrupting potential. Second, valid laboratory analysis methods do not exist to quantify the endocrine disrupting levels of most chemicals, even those that have been identified as EDCs.

Even if all endocrine disruptors are quantified, threshold values have yet to be determined for most chemicals. Finally, the most cost effective methods for reducing the sources of EDC's, and for improved methods of reducing EDCs in wastewater and water treatment must be determined. Nevertheless, detection and quantification methods for a number of EDCs have recently been developed. As a result, studies have come forward providing insight on the treatability of some known EDCs. This paper provides an overview of EDCs from a watershed perspective and presents a summary of the findings from a number of studies regarding the treatability of known or suspected EDCs through conventional and advanced wastewater treatment processes.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 January 2004

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