Search for endocrine disruptors in waters (BIODIEN)

Duration: 2 years
Start date: 01/03/2014
Budget: €400,000

An endocrine disruptor is defined as “an exogenous substance or mixture with properties likely to cause endocrine disruption in an intact organism, in descendants, or within (sub) populations (WHO, 2002). These molecules act on the hormonal balance of numerous living species and cause, due to their effects, a threat to populations of aquatic organisms and thus to ecosystems.

The Walloon government has recently awarded a grant to the SWDE for research into emerging substances in waters affecting public health and the environment (IMHOTEP programme). The IMHOTEP programme mainly concerns hormones and medical waste, without focusing specifically on substances deemed to be endocrine disruptors.

The BIODIEN project complements the analysis programme of the IMHOTEP project by focusing specifically on endocrine disruptors. Around 250 samples will be analysed for the search for the compounds most commonly found in the environment such as nonylphenols, PBDEs, bisphenol A, phthalates, some pesticides, etc. At the same time, ecotoxicological and microbiological screening tools are evaluated with a view to guiding chemical analyses to be performed on samples. Specifically, exotoxicological screening uses estrogenicity and androgenicity tests on genetically-modified yeasts (YES/YAS tests).

The project’s main objectives can be summarised in four points:

  • complementing the inventory of the quality of Walloon waters initiated in the IMHOTEP project through the search for substances deemed to be endocrine disruptors on approx. 250 samples deemed as representative;
  • assessing the level of (anti) estrogenic and (anti) androgenic activity using a hundred samples;
  • assessing the potential of yeast bioassays (YES/YAS tests) such as screening tools;
  • comparing the performances of YES/YAS tests with other screening methods (ELISA kits).