A Defra facilitated steering group comprising representatives from Defra, the Environment Agency and the water industry, have been assessing the implications of EA - lead research into the environmental impacts of endocrine disrupting chemicals (edcs). This work has demonstrated that the reproductive structures of fish species (roach and gudgeon) are adversely affected by the presence of edcs and in particular, by the presence of the following natural and synthetic hormones; oestrone, 17b-oestradiol and 17a-ethinyl oestradiol. This effect was noted most prominently downstream of certain sewage effluent discharges.
Whilst the initial research programmes focused only on a limited number of highly impacted sites, a recent Environment Agency survey was conducted to establish the wider spatial extent and severity of oestrogenic effects in wild fish (roach) in English and Welsh rivers. A further objective of the latest survey was to review predictions of impacts on fish at high, medium and low risk sites, based on predicted oestrogenic activity of the effluents.
Throughout the programme of work, which will take place at sewage treatment works across England, it will be particularly important to have accurate, precise, reliable and fit for purpose analytical methodologies to detect the key endocrine disrupting chemicals; oestrone, 17b-oestradiol and 17a-ethinyl oestradiol.
This research project will start to address that need by developing to NS 30 standard, methodologies suitable for use in sewage influent, including liquid and solid fractions so that limits of detection of less than 10 ngl-1 (total) can be achieved. The methods will validated and reported as a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) in a format to be agreed with the steering committee. The steering committee will consist of members of Defra, UKWIR and the EA. The EA have agreed that these methods will be taken to “blue book”.