Atmospheric releases of BPA could contaminate surface waters, research finds

Researchers from the University of Missouri and U.S. Geological Survey have assessed water quality near industrial sites in the state of Missouri that are permitted to release Bisphenol-A into the air.

May 21, 2015 -- Research has found that elevated concentrations of Bisphenol-A (BPA), a chemical used in consumer products such as plastic food storage and beverage containers, have been discharged into local waterbodies by municipal or industrial wastewater.

With this, researchers from the University of Missouri (UM) and U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) recently assessed water quality near industrial sites in the state of Missouri that are permitted to release BPA into the air. As a result, scientists now believe that atmospheric releases may create a concern for contamination of local surface water, leading to human and wildlife exposure.

The water sampling sites were selected based on their proximity to the Superfund National Priorities List (NPL) or locations with reported atmospheric discharges of BPA as identified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Current or historical municipal wastewater treatment sites, which have been shown in the past to contribute hormonally active chemicals to surface water from urban or industrial sources, were also tested. Finally, relatively clean sites were chosen to serve as the control group.

The water then was analyzed for concentrations of BPA, Ethinyl estradiol (EE2), an estrogen commonly used in oral contraceptive pills, and several wastewater compounds. Scientists also measured the total estrogen and receptor activities of the water. This approach is used to measure all chemicals present in the water that are able to bind to and activate (or inhibit) the estrogen or androgen receptors in wildlife and humans. Levels of chemicals were highest in samples with known wastewater treatment plant discharges.

Concentrations of BPA measured in surface water near these sites were well above levels shown to cause adverse health effects in aquatic species. The study, "Characterization of Missouri surface waters near point sources of pollution reveals potential novel atmospheric route of exposure for bisphenol A and wastewater hormonal activity pattern," was recently published with funding from UM, the USGS Contaminants Biology Program (Environmental Health Mission Area), and STAR Fellowship Assistance Agreement awarded by the EPA.

See also:

"USGS research to help industry pros better quantify groundwater resources in MN"

"USGS, EPA, Blue Legacy launch innovative nutrient awareness challenge"

###

More in Environmental