Steroid estrogens in ocean sediments
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This paper gives results from a study measuring the abundance of steroid hormones in ocean sediments in the proximity of a deep ocean sewage outfall. The outfall is discharge point for an enhanced primary sewage treatment plant and sediment samples were taken adjacent and 7 km from the outfall. All samples contained steroid estrogens at nanogram per gram levels with higher concentrations at the 7 km sampling site. The concentration of estrone ranged from (0.16–1.17 ng/g), 17β-estradiol (0.22–2.48 ng/g) and the synthetic 17α-ethinylestradiol (<0.05–0.5 ng/g). The values detected correspond with estimates based on the proportion of estrogens sorbed to particles in the effluent and the expected proportion of particles originating from sewage in the ocean sediments. The results suggest that estrogens associated with the particulate fraction aggregate on contact with high ionic strength seawater and settle to the seafloor after discharge through deep ocean outfalls.