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Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals in the Australian Riverine Environment

M Williams, M Woods, A Kumar, R Kookana

  • Report
  • Innovation
  • Product ID PR071403
  • PublishedNovember 2007

Product Information

There is growing community concern about the trace levels of certain organic chemicals in the environment, especially in wastewater or reclaimed water.

Certain chemicals in the environment have been shown to interact with the endocrine system of organisms. These compounds are generally referred to as endocrine disrupting chemicals or EDCs. An EDC has been defined as “an exogenous substance or mixture that alters the function of the endocrine system and can subsequently cause adverse effects in an organism, its progeny or within its (sub)population” (Damstra et al. 2002).

The endocrine system is a complex system which relies on the interplay between a number of chemical messengers, or hormones, to control a number of important bodily functions. EDCs have recently emerged as environmental contaminants of concern due to their ubiquitous nature and their ability to cause hormone-like effects and interfere with normal functioning of the endocrine system in an exposed organism. A number of environmental studies have found evidence of endocrine disruption in wildlife populations, including skewed sex ratios, abnormal development of gonads and reproductive failure in exposed populations of aquatic organisms. Of particular interest are compounds including steroidal hormones, alkylphenols (degradates of non-ionic surfactants), phthalates (“plasticisers”), pesticides and organometals that have endocrine disrupting potency.

Entry of EDCs into the aquatic environment can occur via a number of pathways, such as direct discharge from wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs), paper and pulp mills and intensive livestock operations. Diffuse sources of EDCs can include run-off from agricultural lands treated with pesticides, wastewaters and animal manures. Numerous studies, including some recent work in Australia, have determined a number of these compounds are present in the aquatic environment at concentrations that could potentially be of concern. However, the overwhelming majority of research into the issue of EDCs is being undertaken overseas, particularly in Europe, North America and Japan. Considering the increasing pressure on Australian water resources and the unique fauna that lives within these aquatic systems, it is especially prudent to conduct research that can define the issue of EDCs within Australia.

PR071403.pdf1.68 MB
You can order Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals in the Australian Riverine Environment in hard copy, by contacting Canprint and quoting the number PR071403.

Product Data

M Williams, M Woods, A Kumar, R Kookana
PublishedNovember 2007
Product Type: 
Product Format: 
Land and Water Australia

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id: 1641 / created: 01 February, 2008 / last updated: 01 July, 2009