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Impact of climate change on a risk assessment for intersex in fish due to steroid estrogens

Keller, V.D.J.; Lloyd, P.; Williams, R.J.. 2013 Impact of climate change on a risk assessment for intersex in fish due to steroid estrogens. In: SETAC Europe 23rd Annual Meeting, Glasgow, UK, 12-16 May 2013. (Unpublished)

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Abstract/Summary

The impact of climate on the natural environment has been a reason for concern for many scientists across the globe. Although water quantity and water resources have been the focus of many studies over the past years, water quality raised less attention. In England and Wales, steroid estrogens, namely estrone (E1), estradiol (E2) and ethinylestradiol (EE2) were identified as being the main chemicals causing intersex in male fish. A national risk assessment is already available for intersex in fish arising from these estrogens under current flow conditions. This study, presents to our knowledge, the first set of national catchment-based risk assessments for steroid estrogen under future flow scenarios. A geographically referenced model was used to predict concentrations in surface waters across England and Wales for E1, E2 and EE2. The river flows were perturbed using 3 climate change scenarios for the 2050’s defined by the 2009 UK Climate Projections (UKCP09). These climate change scenarios were chosen to represent a selection of possible changes: ranging from a relatively dry scenario to the wettest scenario available. The effects of demographic changes on estrogen consumption and population served by sewage treatment works were also included by using population projections for the UK in 2050. These predicted concentrations were then combined into estradiol equivalent (E2 eq) and compared to known biological effect levels to assess the risk of endocrine disruption across England and Wales. This risk was then mapped in order to identify hotspots and quantify how the risk could change in the future compared to the current situation. For the 2050s, depending on the climate scenario selected, between 51 and 54% of the total river length modelled is predicted to be at no risk from endocrine disruption ([E2 eq] < 1 ng/l). A significant proportion of reaches are predicted to be at risk (1 ≤ [E2 eq] < 10 ng/l): between 43 and 45%, and there are between 3 and 4% of reaches estimated to be at high risk ([E2 eq] ≥ 10 ng/l). Compared to the present situation (no risk: 61%, at risk: 38, and high risk: 1%), this study indicates the possibility of an increased future risk of endocrine disruption in particular within the high risk category where fish intersex is likely to occur. This study provides a spatial overview of this possible change in risks and may provide regulators and policy makers useful information to prepare for this potential risk.

Item Type: Publication - Conference Item (Paper)
Programmes: CEH Topics & Objectives 2009 - 2012 > Biodiversity
CEH Topics & Objectives 2009 - 2012 > Water
CEH Sections: Boorman (to September 2014)
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Hydrology
Date made live: 11 Jun 2013 10:47 +0 (UTC)
URI: http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/502155

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