The seasonal occurrence of organic contaminants, many of which are potential endocrine disruptors, entering the Potomac River, USA, watershed was investigated using a two-pronged approach during the fall of 2005 and spring of 2006. Passive samplers (semipermeable membrane device and polar organic chemical integrative sampler [POCIS]) were deployed in tandem at sites above and below wastewater treatment plant discharges within the watershed. Analysis of the samplers resulted in detection of 84 of 138 targeted chemicals. The agricultural pesticides atrazine and metolachlor had the greatest seasonal changes in water concentrations, with a 3.1 - to 91 -fold increase in the spring compared with the level in the previous fall. Coinciding with the elevated concentrations of atrazine in the spring were increasing concentrations of the atrazine degradation products desethylatrazine and desisopropylatrazine in the fall following spring and summer application of the parent compound. Other targeted chemicals (organochlorine pesticides, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and organic wastewater chemicals) did not indicate seasonal changes in occurrence or concentration; however, the overall concentrations and number of chemicals present were greater at the sites downstream of wastewater treatment plant discharges. Several fragrances and flame retardants were identified in these downstream sites, which are characteristic of wastewater effluent and human activities. The bioluminescent yeast estrogen screen in vitro assay of the POCIS extracts indicated the presence of chemicals that were capable of producing an estrogenic response at all sampling sites.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Environmental Chemistry
- Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis