Prediction of the bioaccumulation factors and body burden of natural and synthetic estrogens in aquatic organisms in the river systems

Ka Man Lai, M. D. Scrimshaw, J. N. Lester

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

151 Citations (Scopus)


This study undertakes an initial prediction of the bioaccumulation factors and body burden of the steroid estrogens, estrone, estradiol, estriol and ethinylestradiol in a range of aquatic organisms (plankton, benthic and free-living invertebrates and fish) in river systems using a food-web model. These data are compared to that derived from less complex predictions based on octanol-water partition coefficient and molecular connectivity index. The model predicted that bioaccumulation of steroid estrogens occurred in all organisms, however, the values were small, and the maximum and minimum bioaccumulation factors in this study were found in the fish at the lowest trophic level with ethinylestradiol (332) and the fish at the highest trophic level with estriol (1.8), respectively. Moreover, the bioaccumulation factors were sensitive to the metabolic rates of the estrogens in the free living organisms, while the concentration of estrogens in sediment was a significant factor in determining these values in benthic invertebrates. Biomagnification contributed little to the overall bioaccumulation, but the importance increased in fish exposed to ethinylestradiol. The predicted bioaccumulation factors from the food web model were generally smaller than the calculated bioconcentration factors from the simpler octanol-water partition coefficient/molecular connectivity index based estimates. Compared to literature measured data, the predicted values for fish were approximately 1000 times less than the values observed in laboratory tests, while for invertebrates, the modeled values were less than two orders of magnitude below laboratory results. However, the model predicted a similar bioconcentration factor for plankton in relation to experimental data for Chlorella vulgaris for estrone and estriol.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)159-168
Number of pages10
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Issue number1-3
Publication statusPublished - 22 Apr 2002

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution

User-Defined Keywords

  • Bioaccumulation factors
  • Body burden
  • Steroid estrogens


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