Project duration: 2016-2019
Funding: No external funding
Project House Water is comprised of scientists from various faculties (biology, process engineering, geosciences, sociology, economics) from RWTH Aachen and international institutes that work together to improve our understanding of flood events and associated societal and environmental impacts. The quality of water can be significantly reduced through the unintentional distribution of pollutants, damage of infrastructure, and distribution of sediments and suspended materials during flood events.
In recent years, contaminants of emerging concern such as personal care products and pharmaceuticals (PPCPs), nanoparticles, and flame retardants have also become of interest to the public and scientific community, especially with regard to their potential adverse effects on wildlife. One group of chemicals of emerging concern that has been of particular interest are endocrine disrupting compounds (EDCs). EDCs are substances that cause disturbances of the hormone system in fish and even humans, potentially impairing reproduction, normal development, growth and other critical biological functions. Endocrine effects from sediments have demonstrated with in vitro tests (e.g., YES) from sites in England, the Netherlands, Italy and Germany.
An EDC of interest is 17α-ethinylestradiol (EE2), which is the active ingredient in many birth control pills and has strong estrogenic activity. EE2 can significantly interfere with the sexual development of fish and lead to the feminization of male fish, and thus adversely affect the reproductive success of populations. In a Canadian lake, it was observed that environmentally relevant concentrations of EE2 (5-6 ng/L) in the water phase led to the near extinction of a whole population of fathead minnow fish within a very short time. A large number of EDC substances also accumulate on suspended particulate materials in the water phase, which act as a long-term sink in sediment. However, it is largely unknown to which extent the sediment-bound fraction of EE2 can be remobilized during flood events and hence, has the potential to cause adverse effects on fish.
As a subproject of the Project House Water, Flood-Hydrotox aims to assess the bioavailability of EE2 remobilized from sediment during flood-like conditions and their effects on fish using the model organism, rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss). Fish will be exposed in specifically designed systems that allow to realistically simulate exposure conditions after resuspension of sediments due to simulated flood events (e.g., annular flume). The quantitative description and prediction of the effects of sediment-bound EDCs to fish after resuspension events will provide a proof-of-concept study to characterize the remobilization and bioavailability of pollutants from sediments under flood-like scenarios.
Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Henner Hollert
Goethe University Frankfurt
Biologicum, Campus Riedberg
60438 Frankfurt am Main, Germany
Phone: +49 (0)69 798 42171
Fax: +49 (0)69 798 42161