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A Solid Phase Extraction-Immunoassay Technique for Determining Aquatic Concentrations of Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals

Sophia Youn and Thomas B. Huff



Endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) can be found in the aquatic environment near sewage treatment plants and in areas where agricultural runoff occurs. They have been shown to affect the reproductive function of aquatic organisms and may present a problem for communities that use river water as a source for drinking water.

This study examined 6 EDCs including three naturally occurring estrogens, estradiol, estrone and estriol, the synthetic hormones ethinylestradiol and diethylstilbesterol and the plasticizer, bisphenol A. River water samples were taken from two sites on the North Fork of the Shenandoah River above and below a series of wastewater treatment facilities that serve local municipalities and two poultry processing facilities

There are two problems that need to be solved in determining river water concentrations. EDCs are effective at very low concentrations in the environment (<1 ng/mL) but are hard to detect at that level with the laboratory equipment available for this project. It is also difficult to confirm the identities of EDCs in the complex river water sample matrix. Estradiol—the strongest endocrine disrupting compound—was examined to address these problems.

Larger water samples were extracted and concentrated using solid phase extraction cartridges. The quantity and identity of estradiol in those concentrated extracts were determined using a specific immunoassay (ELISA).

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