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Modelling effects of mixtures of endocrine disrupting chemicals at the river catchment scale

Sumpter, John P.; Johnson, Andrew C.; Williams, Richard J; Kortenkamp, Andreas; Scholz, Martin. 2006 Modelling effects of mixtures of endocrine disrupting chemicals at the river catchment scale. Environmental Science & Technology, 40. 5478-5489. 10.1021/es052554d

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Abstract/Summary

For endocrine disrupting chemicals in the environment, concerns arise primarily from the effects that may be induced in wildlife. A well studied example is estrogenic chemicals in the aquatic environment and their effects on fish. Directly measuring effects, in fieldwork studies, is an expensive and time-consuming approach that is fraught with many difficulties, ranging from study design right through to data analysis and interpretation. An alternative approach would be to predict the scale of effect(s) using suitable modeling techniques. We have attempted to do this using estrogenic chemicals as an example. We chose this group of aquatic pollutants because of the current considerable interest in them and the wealth of biological data available on them. Using the established GREAT-ER hydrological model, we have first predicted the concentrations and then the estrogenic effects on fish, of estrone, estradiol, ethinyl estradiol, and nonylphenol individually throughout an entire river catchment. We then show that knowledge of the biological responses of fish to mixtures of these chemicals can be used to predict the effect of environmentally realistic mixtures of them. To determine the degree of risk posed by this group of chemicals, it was necessary to take into account mixture effects: assessment on a chemical by chemical basis led to underestimations of the risk. Finally, we show that the approach can be used to predict how the risk will be affected by changes in the concentration of one chemical in the mixture. Although we have used only one endpoint (vitellogenin induction as an estrogenic response) and one group of similarly acting chemicals, we suggest that this general approach could prove extremely useful to regulatory authorities and other parties charged with protecting aquatic wildlife from adverse effects caused by chemicals in their environment.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): 10.1021/es052554d
Programmes: CEH Programmes pre-2009 publications > Water
CEH Sections: _ Water Quality
ISSN: 0013-936X
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Hydrology
Chemistry
Date made live: 14 May 2008 08:44
URI: http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/2925

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