The fate of endocrine disruptors during advanced treatment (ozonation) of hospital wastewater

While estrogenic and androgenic compounds are well removed by advanced wastewater treatment, the fate of steroid receptor antagonists (i.e., antiestrogens and antiandrogens) is not well understood. This is why we investigate the fate of estrogen and androgen receptor agonists and antagonists at a hospital wastewater treatment plant in Gelsenkirchen (Germany). This plant is equipped with a membrane bioreactor and a subsequent ozonation/sand filtration. We use in vitro bioassays to study the estrogenic, androgenic, antiestrogenic, and antiandrogenic activity after each treatment. Moreover, we use a fractionation approach and effect-directed analysis to investigate whether antagonist activities are formed during treatment or are unmasked by the degradation of receptor agonists. According to current knowledge, advanced wastewater treatment is believed to remove most of the endocrine disrupting chemicals. In this project, we will test whether this is also true for receptor antagonist, which are environmentally relevant but rarely studied. In addition, we will integrate and compare the results from three different bioassay systems (Yeast Estrogen Screen, A-YES, and ER-CALUX) to evaluate their suitability for analyzing the endocrine activity of wastewater.

Project partner: Dr. Martin Wagner
Johann Wolfgang Goethe-University Frankfurt
Department Aquatic Ecotoxicology
Max-von-Laue-Str. 13
D-60438 Frankfurt am Main
phone ++ 49-69 79842149
fax ++ 49-69 79842141
e-mail: wagner(at)

Principle investigators
Martin Wagner (

Sponsoring agency

State Office for Nature, Environment and Consumer Protection, North Rhine-Westphalia (LANUV NRW)