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Environmental Health - Toxic Substances

Investigations - Contaminants of Emerging Concern in the Environment

Laboratory Study of Effects of Municipal Effluent on Native Fish Species

A fish tank used to expose fish to wastewater effluent during controlled laboratory experiments
A fish tank used to expose fish to wastewater effluent during controlled laboratory experiments
(click on image for larger version)

In the arid southwest, effluent-dominated waters (EDWs) are becoming increasingly prevalent. EDWs have the potential to become both habitat for native species and a future drinking-water source in arid areas; however, relatively little is known about the possibility of endocrine disrupting effects on aquatic communities or humans when exposed to chronic low-level doses of a variety of organic wastewater compounds in EDWs. Municipalities, utilities, and regulatory agencies need a comprehensive framework upon which sound managerial decisions regarding endocrine disruption and overall ecosystem health within EDWs can be formulated. Additionally, morphological measurements such as gonadal-somatic indices, gonadal histopathologies, and sperm analyses will be performed for additional corroboration with serum and plasma levels of the sex steroids mentioned. EDW and control waters used in aquaria will be analyzed for emerging contaminants (e.g. prescription and nonprescription drugs, hormones and steroids, and organic wastewater compounds) as part of the Emerging Contaminants Project. As currently planned, 4 aquaria, 2 control and 2 EDW, will be stocked with bonytail chub (warmwater native fish). Effluent from the Pima County Wastewater Treatment Plant (secondary effluent) will be introduced to two aquaria and the parameters described above will be measured several times over a period of 1 year. A similar sequence will be followed for an additional year with coldwater Apache trout and tertiary-treated wastewater from Flagstaff, Arizona.

Available Publications

Study is in progress.

More Information

  • Project contact: Gail Cordy

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