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Measuring endocrine disruptors in wastewater

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Treating pollutants is an effective way to protect the environment. Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that alter the hormonal systems and the development of organisms that are exposed to them. Institut national de la recherche scientifique (INRS) scientists are working on an effluent analysis tool to predict their harmful effects.

Scientists are also working with municipal and industrial partners to monitor drinking water and wastewater to plan for potential infrastructure changes. Their method does not involve animal testing, unlike many current techniques that test on fish. Their approach uses human cell lines which are genetically modified in the laboratory to be sensitive to certain hormones.

Scientists said further research is needed to reveal how their cellular findings translate to aquatic species.

The contaminant cocktails

The challenge in monitoring wastewater comes from the “cocktail” of endocrine disruptors it contains. Scientists turned to bioassays, to test the effects of the pollutant mix. They used the biological analyses to measure the reactions of their cell lines when exposed to wastewater samples.

Robitaille used several techniques to demonstrate the effectiveness of this type of approach. One of which involved making an inventory of all the tools available to regulatory authorities. Scientists conducted this literature review in collaboration with scientists who are members of the Intersectoral Centre for Endocrine Disruptor Analysis (ICEDA). The study was published in the Environmental Research journal’s 2022 Special Issue on Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals.

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