Investigating Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals and their Disinfection Byproducts in Relation to Estrogenic Strength within Drinking Water Treatment

EPA Grant Number: FP916940
Title: Investigating Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals and their Disinfection Byproducts in Relation to Estrogenic Strength within Drinking Water Treatment
Investigators: Studer, Kirsten Elaine
Institution: University of Massachusetts - Amherst
EPA Project Officer: Michaud, Jayne
Project Period: September 1, 2008 through September 1, 2010
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (2008) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Academic Fellowships


Endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) are part of an emerging group of contaminants that have been noted for their presence at low concentrations in surface and ground waters. Due to the recent detection of EDCs in drinking water, few treatment techniques for the removal of estrogenic compounds have been investigated. This project will evaluate the treatment efficiency and the qualitative understanding of EDC byproduct formation resulting from various treatment strategies. Additional research may lead to a model describing removal of specific EDCs subjected to certain types of removal treatments. Such degradation techniques accompanied with present drinking water purification procedures will help identify and prevent threats to public drinking water.


From the wide variety of EDCs, this research will focus on a selected group due to their endocrine-disrupting potential and their presence in natural water supplies. This group includes both natural and synthetic estrogens used in medicine as contraceptives and in hormonal therapies. In order to determine which treatments are the most reliable and effective, each process will be examined as to how it degrades the EDCs. The contaminants will first be observed in pure water samples to eliminate matrix effects. When the byproducts resulting from the pure samples are determined, spiked raw water samples will be treated to compare byproduct formation. The estrogenic activity will be measured to determine if an increase or decrease in activity has resulted from the degradation. Due to the chemical diversity of EDCs, both liquid and gas chromatography combined with mass spectroscopy (LC/MS and GC/MS) will be used to identify byproducts. Yeast estrogen screen (YES) and fish bioassays will be used to determine the estrogenic activity of both the parent estrogens and byproducts.

Expected Results:

It is expected that byproducts will be identified for the natural and synthetic estrogens and reaction mechanisms of chemical treatment techniques will be proposed. Once the byproducts are identified, detection methods can be simplified and/or modified to allow less sensitive instruments to determine the EDC removal and byproduct presence. Byproduct identification and estrogenic activity will provide information on the specific chemical moieties that are responsible for the estrogenic strength of each contaminant. Developed models will provide the basis for the rapid response required to rectify compromised water systems.

Supplemental Keywords:

Endocrine disruptors, UV disinfection, ozonation, byproducts, treatment,

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2009
  • Final