IWA Publishing

Steroid oestrogens in the environment: an Australian perspective

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Endocrine disrupting compounds (EDCs) have been in the scientific spotlight since the 1980s. However, there has been much less research reported in Australia than in other developed countries and little information is known about how these compounds interact with native Australian species compared to European and North American fauna. This is of concern because Australia has distinct wildlife and environments that face increasing intensity and frequency of extreme, climatic events compared to northern hemisphere countries. Since oestrogenic compounds cannot be prevented from entering wastewater their management and removal must occur at wastewater treatment plants. Biological treatment is the most effective tool in this regard; however the financial and environmental costs must be balanced with the environmental benefit to effectively plan treatment options. Since standard risk assessment models and procedures developed internationally are unlikely to translate well to Australian ecosystems, new, novel and localised research on both the monitoring and assessment of EDCs in Australian wastewater and receiving aquatic environments is recommended. This includes the development of relevant bioassays and application of treatment technologies that reflect the local community and climate.

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