Estrogenicity in Swedish wastewaters was surveyed. Estrogenicity was examined using a recombinant yeast cell test and analyses of the yolk protein precursor in the blood of caged juvenile rainbow trout at sites close to wastewater outlets or in continuous flow tanks of undiluted wastewater. Estrogenic effects corresponding to <0.1 to 15 ng estradiol equivalents were found in municipal effluents. In 9 of 12 industrial effluents, estrogenic effects were below the detection limit of the screen test. None of the six effluents from the pulp and paper industry, from a steel works, and from two chemical industries had a detectable estrogenic effect. Two assays were used for analysis of plasma vitellogenin, a heterologous enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and a homologous radio immunoassay. Exposure to undiluted municipal wastewater resulted in increased levels of vitellogenin in the plasma of juvenile trout. Using the more sensitive RIA test, increased levels of plasma vitellogenin were detected in cage exposure of rainbow trout in municipal effluent receiving waters. Textile industry effluents mixed with domestic wastewater were estrogenic probably due to contributions from the domestic effluent. In some effluents, toxicity may have masked estrogenic effects.

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