DescriptionIn this dissertation, the sorption, biotransformation, and presence in the environment of five hormones, 17β-estradiol, 17α-ethinylestradiol, estrone, androstenedione, and testosterone, were chosen for study. Sorption to various soils and sediments appears to assume non-linear characteristics, with n values in the Freundlich isotherm model falling below unity as well as there being a tendency for log KOC values to increase as the amount of sorbate decreases. As for inter-soil sorption comparisons, there appeared to be no obvious correlation between the sorption capacity of the hormones and the quantity of organic carbon of the soil, which suggests site-specific interactions between the functional groups of the hormones and the complex surfaces of the soils/sediments employed.
Biotransformation studies of three of the hormones to river sediments reveal that the rate of reaction increased in the order of 17α-ethinylestradiol < 17β-estradiol < testosterone. The synthetic hormone used in the birth control pills, 17α-ethinylestradiol, was relatively recalcitrant compared to the two natural hormones. When the hormone biotransformation data was compared to the sorbent characteristics of the same select hormones on the same sediments, it was found in general that sediments with lower organic carbon content yielded longer lag times for both female and male hormones.
The field samples of various sewage treatment plant effluent and river waters of central and northern New Jersey for hormones yielded frequent detections. At least one hormone was detected at all 9 sampling locations in central and northern New Jersey. Androstenedione and estrone were the most frequently detected and found at the highest concentrations. Hormones were detected at levels known to either induce vitellogenin production or have pheromonal effects in fish. The low levels of unconjugated hormone at the combined sewer overflow were most likely due to the lack of deconjugation in the freshly discharged sewage/rain water mixture.