Endocrine disrupting compounds are introduced into the environment during various stages of the life cycle of certain personal care products including manufacturing, use, and disposal. Although wastewaters must be treated to meet permit requirements, endocrine disrupting compounds are currently not regulated and therefore the extent to which sewage treatment plants remove them prior to discharge varies widely. Citizen scientists have the potential to play a significant role in the scientific discovery process, and they can participate in identifying potential courses of action and desired legislation. The goal of this project is to involve citizen scientists in collecting and reporting data concerning the levels of endocrine-disrupting compounds in the water. This study eventually could lead to a reduction in the amount of endocrine disrupting compounds in the Susquehanna River Basin. The methods used in this project have the potential to be transformative and to be applied to other watersheds across the United States that are coping with fish population declines and increasing contaminant concentrations. The project researchers are recruiting approximately 50-60 volunteer citizen scientists to participate in data generation and focus groups meetings to ultimately identify ways to reduce endocrine disrupting compounds in the environment.
In this research project, citizen scientists: 1) employ an endocrine disrupting compound footprint tool developed by the researchers to estimate the mass of endocrine disrupting compounds in their personal care, household cleaning, and laundry products; 2) collect water samples from locations across the Susquehanna River Basin to be be analyzed for more than 50 endocrine disrupting compounds from pharmaceuticals, personal care products, and pesticides; 3) participate in focus group meetings to identify research needs and priorities, potential course of action, and desired legislation related to reducing endocrine disrupting compounds in the Susquehanna River Basin. Data generated by the citizen scientists from the endocrine disrupting compound footprint tool and the water quality data provides a potentially powerful insight to enable the citizen scientists to link their usage of common endocrine disrupting compound-containing products to the presence of endocrine disrupting compounds in surface water. This knowledge will empower the citizen scientists to actively make personal decisions to reduce endocrine disrupting compound sources. The inclusion of the Penn State Survey Research Center brings unique focus group expertise to the team. The analytical chemistry expertise through Penn State's water quality laboratory facilities and the USDA ensures that high quality endocrine disrupting compound data is generated. The methodologies used in this proposal have the potential to be transformative and to be applied to other watersheds across the United States that are coping with fish population declines and endocrine disrupting compound concerns.
|Effective start/end date||1/1/18 → 12/31/19|
- National Science Foundation: $99,995.00