Mahurin Honors College Capstone Experience/Thesis Projects


Public Health

Document Type



Estrogenic compounds have been found in surface waters downstream from wastewater treatment plant effluents. In the aquatic environment, these hormones are shown to cause feminization and sterility of aquatic organisms, thus altering aquatic ecosystems upon which human health depends. In order to assess estrogenic compounds at a local wastewater treatment facility in Franklin, KY, Environmental Protection Agency Method 539 [Determination of Hormones in Drinking Water by Solid Phase Extraction (SPE) and Liquid Chromatography Electrospray Ionization Tandem Mass Spectrometry (LC/ESI-MS/MS)] was modified to measure levels of these contaminants in wastewater influent and effluent. This method requires use of LC/ESI-MS/MS analysis. A significant matrix effect occurred in the analysis due to ion suppression in influent samples. Evaluation of the analyses completed showed that only the hormone estrone was successfully extracted and detected in influent and effluent samples. Statistical analysis of these results showed a significant decrease in estrone in the effluent as compared to the influent. Based on this comparison, the wastewater treatment process utilized by the City of Franklin, KY has the capacity to remove estrone from influent wastewater. The presence of BPA was confirmed in all influent, effluent, and blank samples. Further studies should be conducted to identify the treatment modality that is effective in removing estrone and other hormones during the wastewater treatment process. A final conclusion is that an alternative method of extraction should be developed to determine the presence of estrogens in wastewater, avoid a matrix effect, and eliminate ion suppression.


Life Sciences

Included in

Life Sciences Commons