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Assessment of the Occurrence and Potential Risks of EDCs that are pharmaceuticals or natural in Discharges from Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations

Project Purpose:
Research Questions: Determine how and to what degree human and wildlife populations are exposed to EDCs natural or from Pharmaceutical additions. Determine what effects are occurring in exposed human and wildlife populations. Determine what are the major sources and environmental fates of EDCs natural and/or pharmaceutical additives. Determine how unreasonable risk can be managed. This project is an integrated and cooperative ORD effort involving scientists from NERL, NRMRL, NHEERL, and extramural researchers funded through the NCER STAR grants program. The overall goal of the project is to characterize the magnitude and extent of the impact of estrogenic and androgenic hormones and pharmaceuticals in waste from CAFOS and determine the impact of current CAFO waste management strategies on the fate and effects of hormones and pharmaceuticals.

Project Description(s):
EPA investigators and STAR researchers will collaborate to:

Develop robust in vitro and analytical methods to identify and quantify compounds responsible for endocrine (e.g., androgenic, estrogenic) activity of complex CAFO discharges

Identify ecologically-relevant biomarkers in aquatic species (primarily fish) of exposure to estrogenic/androgenic CAFO discharges through use of state-of-the-art genomic approaches

Evaluate the environmental fate, transport and metabolism of CAFO-derived EDCs relative to occurrence in surface and ground waters

Assess possible ecological impacts of EDCs from CAFOs using a combination of laboratory and field studies

Evaluate capability of existing risk management technologies for CAFOs to reduce exposure to EDCs

These molecular changes will be linked with functional measurements of key hormones and enzymes that are part of the HPT pathway, all of which will be interpreted in the context of organismal-level effects.

Project Outcomes:
The results of this integrated project will contribute to site-specific risk assessments and development of risk management options for hormones in waste from CAFOs. Increased knowledge of risks associated with CAFOs as potential sources for hormones in surface and groundwater, waste, and soil will be used to support the current activities of the EPA Office of Water (OW) and Regional Offices with respect to the regulation of CAFOs. Regulations are currently being developed to control nutrient pollution from CAFOs.

In addition, some of the materials we will focus on in these studies (synthetic steroids) are regulated as veterinary pharmaceuticals. Currently pharmaceuticals in the environment, both human and veterinary, are considered an emerging topic of environmental concern by EPA and other Federal Agencies. This work will contribute directly to developing methods for, and better defining the occurrence of, pharmaceuticals used for livestock production.

Finally, in addition to steroidal EDCs, there are a number of other materials used for livestock production that are of potential environmental concern, such as pesticides and antibiotics (and nutrients?). The types of studies/approaches used for this work could very well be expanded to consider potential risks of EDCs.

Understand the occurrence, fate, transport, and effects of hormones used and generated by CAFOs.

Characterize CAFOs as one potential source of hormones in the environment.

Evaluate various waste management strategies for ways to reduce risk by eliminating potential routes of exposure, reducing available hormone concentrations, or increasing degradation of hormones in waste or the environment.

Publication of an ORD Report on Assessment of the Occurrence and Potential Risks of EDCs in Discharges from Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations.

Publication of results at international meetings.

The research will 1) characterize the types and amounts of hormones and metabolites in waste and effluent from CAFOs with animals of different livestock species, ages, and feeding regimens; 2) elucidate the environmental fate of steroids and their metabolites from stored and land applied wastes in soil and water; 3) determine how waste management practices influence the fate, environmental exposures, and effects of hormones from CAFOs; and 4) assess regional differences and the effect of seasonal variability on exposures and effects.

Publications from EPA-funded STAR grants and cooperative agreements are likely to be produced for up to five years after the completion of the project period (2010-2014).

Garald Ankley at ankley.garald@epa.gov

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