Concentrations of the weakly oestrogenic degradation products of alkylphenol polyethoxylate (APE) surfactants (nonylphenol, octylphenol, nonylphenol monoethoxylate and nonylphenol diethoxylate) were measured in water and sediments from British rivers and estuaries collected during 1994 and 1995. In addition, a series of samples of tissues of wild fish from the River Aire, and from a laboratory dosing experiment were analysed for alkylphenols, to assess the degree of bioaccumulation of these compounds. Measurable concentrations of APE residues were recorded in the River Aire (15–76 μg/l total extractable alkylphenols), the River Mersey (6–11 μg/l) and the Tees estuary (up to 76 μg/l). These levels exceed, or are close to, the no observed effect concentration for the induction of vitellogenesis in caged trout (5–20 μg/l total extractable alkylphenols), and may be sufficient to exert an oestrogenic effect on fish populations in these areas. A sediment sample from Bingley on the River Aire contained 15 μg/g (dry weight) nonylphenol, and concentrations in sediments from the Tees and Mersey estuaries exceeded 1 μg/g. These rivers receive a variety of trade waters via sewage treatment works (STW) effluents containing significant concentrations of APE. Elsewhere, concentrations in water and sediments were near or below limits of detection and biological effects are unlikely, suggesting that any oestrogenic effects observed in sewage outfalls and rivers not directly impacted by APE-containing trade-waters may be caused by other chemicals. Analysis of samples of trout muscle taken from a tank dosed at 65 μg/l nonylphenol indicated a bioaccumulation factor of between 90 and 125 after 3 weeks exposure. Samples of wild fish from the River Aire contained up to 0.8 μg/g nonylphenol in the muscle, a tissue bioaccumulation factor of approximately 50 relative to measured concentrations in water samples. A series of fish samples taken from offshore for food quality assurance purposes contained no detectable levels of APE residues (0.05–0.1 μg/g nonylphenol).
Marine Pollution Bulletin – Elsevier
Published: Feb 1, 1999
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