There are over 40,000 chemical compounds registered for use in Australia, and only a handful are monitored in the aquatic receiving environments. Their effects on fish species in Australia are largely unknown. Mosquitofish (Gambusia holbrooki) were sampled from six river sites in Southeast Queensland identified as at risk from a range of pollutants. The sites selected were downstream of a wastewater treatment plant discharge, a landfill, two agricultural areas, and two sites in undeveloped reaches within or downstream of protected lands (national parks). Vitellogenin analysis, histopathology of liver, kidney and gonads, morphology of the gonopodium, and chemical body burden were measured to characterize fish health. Concentrations of trace organic contaminants (TrOCs) in water were analyzed by in vitro bioassays and chemical analysis. Estrogenic, anti-estrogenic, anti-androgenic, progestagenic and anti-progestagenic activities and TrOCs were detected in multiple water samples. Several active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs), industrial compounds, pesticides and other endocrine active compounds were detected in fish carcasses at all sites, ranging from < 4–4700 ng/g wet weight, including the two undeveloped sites. While vitellogenin protein was slightly increased in fish from two of the six sites, the presence of micropollutants did not cause overt sexual endocrine disruption in mosquitofish (i.e., no abnormal gonads or gonopodia). A correlation between lipid accumulation in the liver with total body burden warrants further investigation to determine if exposure to low concentrations of TrOCs can affect fish health and increase stress on organs such as the liver and kidneys via other mechanisms, including disruption of non-sexual endocrine axes involved in lipid regulation and metabolism.
- Endocrine disruption
- Pharmaceutical and personal care products