U.S. Department of Agriculture: Agricultural Research Service, Lincoln, Nebraska


Date of this Version



Published in J. Environ. Qual. 35:122–132 (2006).


Estrogenic activity of regional water samples was evaluated. Samples obtained from wetlands and ponds involved in various agricultural land uses, from three river sites over four seasons, and from municipal wastewater effluent held in storage lagoons were evaluated. The estrogen- responsive cell line MCF-7 BOS was used in the E-screen assay to determine 17β-estradiol equivalents (E2 Eq) of water samples extracted by solid-phase extraction. Estrogenic activity in surrounding wetlands and ponds from different land uses was not different, with 10-12 M E2 Eq (0.3 ppt). Estrogenic activity of Red River samples was within the same range as wetland–pond samples. The highest activity was found downstream from municipal wastewater treatment effluent discharge sites, in winter when river flow was lowest (approximately 6 x 10-13 ME2 Eq). Results showed that 7 of 20 wetland–pond samples and 5 of 12 river samples were below the limits of quantitation (approximately 3 x 10-14 M E2 Eq). Toxicity was found in fall and summer river samples upstream from municipal wastewater release sites. The timing of toxicity did not coincide to the presence of elevated fecal coliforms. Estrogenic activity in wastewater effluent from lagoons decreased over time (approximately 25 to 5 x 10-13 M E2 Eq) with an apparent half-life of 8 d for one lagoon. The median concentration of detectable estrogenic activity in regional water samples was approximately 50-fold less than the median 17β-estradiol concentration of estradiol detected in some U.S. streams in previous studies.