Effects of pollutants on the aquatic environment
Effects of pollutants on the aquatic environment

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

Free course

Effects of pollutants on the aquatic environment

5.1.1 Endocrine disruptors

As mentioned above, pesticides can be endocrine disruptors. Many other chemicals are also classed as endocrine disruptors, i.e. they interfere with the synthesis, secretion, transport and binding, action, or elimination of natural hormones in the body that are responsible for the maintenance of homeostasis, reproduction, development and/or behaviour (Burkhardt-Holm, 2010).

Most endocrine disruptors are synthetic compounds (e.g. plasticisers such as bisphenol A, used in plastic bottles and food containers; sex steroids in contraceptive pills; paints; pesticides; alkylphenol polyethoxylates used as surfactants in detergents). They can end up in watercourses through sewage treatment works, surface water run-off, direct discharge or leachates from landfill sites. One effect that has been observed on wildlife is the feminisation of male fish (Jobling et al., 2002).

Having said the above, there are also natural sources of endocrine disruptors. For instance, Fusarium fungus infesting corn and other grains produces zearalenone, a potent oestrogenic chemical that causes cessation of lactation and hyperoestrogenisation in pigs (Burkhardt-Holm, 2010).

In terms of water supply, endocrine disruptors can be present if untreated groundwater is used for potable supplies, if the groundwater is contaminated with the suspect chemicals. Bottled water can contain endocrine disruptors from plasticisers and detergents used in the production process.

T868_1

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371