• Project No 2014
  • Project Name Tools for analysing androgenic, thyroid, glucocorticoid and progestagenic activity in environmental waters
  • Lead Organisation Veolia Water Australia
  • Research Lead Griffith University
  • Main Researcher Fred Leusch
  • Completion Year 2017

Project Description

Fish, frogs, and other aquatic animals sometimes show signs of ‘endocrine disruption’; aberrant changes to their hormone or reproductive systems that are thought to be caused by chemicals in the water they inhabit. Very few of these chemicals have been identified, and this prevents the use of classical chemistry-based analytical methods. The other problem is that the levels of hormone-like chemicals which have endocrine-disrupting biological effects tend to be so low that standard chemical methods cannot detect them. This research developed a suite of biological tests sensitive enough to detect very low levels of chemicals associated with certain types of endocrine disruption. These tests were used to examine wastewater, surface water and drinking water collected from Australia, South Africa and four European countries. The water samples were also subjected to standard chemical analysis, and the datasets compared. It was concluded that some wastewater and surface water samples contained compounds that interacted with components of the estrogen, progesterone, androgen and mineralocorticoid hormone systems, but none of the biological tests detected endocrine disrupting activity in drinking water.