The qualitative and quantitative evaluation of estrogen and estrogen-mimicking substances in the South African water environment
Van der Merwe, Liesl
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Recently some chemicals has been accused of mimicking the female hormone estrogen. The mode of action is termed estrogen-mimicking, because of the effects that is produced by these chemicals. Playing canary in a coal mine, wildlife was the first to indicate that something was wrong. Reproductive abnormalities such as abnormal sperm, reduced sperm production, cryptorchidism (undescended testes). abnormal hormone levels – particularly high estrogen ratios to that of testosterone. infertility, and genital abnormalities were all evidence that something in the environment was affecting the reproductive status of these animals. Also in humans instances like rising cases of infertility, abnormal sperm conditions and cases of breast cancer raised an increased concern about the potential disruptive effects of these substances on the human existence. After investigations were conducted, it was found that substances which enhance the quality of life like some detergents, agricultural products, additives to plastic, dyestuffs, paint components and pharmaceuticals to name but a few, all caused an abnormal reproductive status as seen in animals. The aims of this study were not to focus on the effect of these substances, but rather to identify estrogen and estrogen - mimics in the South African environment and to evaluate their presence in the water environment qualitatively and quantitatively with the most suitable analytical methods. Estrogen - mimics such as nonylphenol. o'p' and p'p' DDE, o'p' DDD, lindane, atrazine and the PCB's : Arochlor 1254 & Arochlor 1260 were found to contaminate the environment. The drinking water tested of the PWV area indicated that the water was free of these substances, and thus indicated a present safe situation.