Author(s): Ternes TA, Kreckel P, Mueller J
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Abstract Aerobic batch experiments containing a diluted slurry of activated sludge from a real sewage treatment plant (STP) near Frankfurt/Main were undertaken, in order to investigate the persistence of natural estrogens and contraceptives under aerobic conditions. The batch experiments showed that while in contact with activated sludge the natural estrogen 17 beta-estradiol was oxidized to estrone, which was further eliminated in the batch experiments in an approximate linear time dependence. Further degradation products of estrone were not observed. 16 alpha-hydroxyestrone was rapidly eliminated, again without detection of further degradation products. The contraceptive 17 alpha-ethinylestradiol was principally persistent under the selected aerobic conditions, whereas mestranol was rapidly eliminated and small portions of 17 alpha-ethinylestradiol were formed by demethylation. Additionally, two glucuronides of 17 beta-estradiol (17 beta-estradiol-17-glucuronide and 17 beta-estradiol-3-glucuronide) were cleaved in contact with the diluted activated sludge solution and thus 17 beta-estradiol was released. The glucuronidase activity of the activated sludge was further confirmed by the cleavage of 4-methylumbelliferyl-beta-D-glucuronide (MUF-beta-glucuronide) in a solution of a activated sludge slurry and Milli-Q-water (1:100, v/v). The turnover rate obtained was approximately steady state, with a turnover rate of 0.1 mumol/l for the released MUF. Hence, it is very likely that the glucuronic acid moiety of 17 beta-estradiol glucuronides and other estrogen glucuronides become cleaved in a real municipal STP, so that the concentrations of the free estrogens increase.
This article was published in Sci Total Environ
and referenced in Journal of Bioremediation & Biodegradation