Recent studies of Minnesota’s waters show that a wide variety of unregulated chemicals, such as pharmaceuticals, fragrances, fire retardants, and insecticides, are ending up in lakes and rivers. Many of these substances have properties that can interfere with the functioning of hormones in animals and people. Some mimic the effects of hormones in animals and negatively impact growth and development. These endocrine-active compounds are not acutely toxic at the levels normally found in the environment, but over time can impact organisms at very low concentrations. Sources of these chemicals to waters include wastewater discharges, runoff from animal agriculture, and air pollution.
The MPCA has developed methods to help characterize adverse effects of these chemicals on aquatic life. Read the file below for an example of this.
New study on drugs, chemicals in Minnesota waters
A new study released by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency confirms that lakes and streams across Minnesota are contaminated by pharmaceuticals, cosmetic ingredients and endocrine-disrupting compounds. This is the latest study in a series investigating the presence of these chemicals in Minnesota’s surface water.
Some chemicals can mimic the effects of hormones in animals and cause adverse physiologic effects, such as changes to the reproductive system or to the growth and development of an organism. These chemicals are called "endocrine active" compounds (EACs). These compounds do not usually exhibit acute toxicity at the levels normally found in the environment, but instead can alter the normal functioning and growth of the exposed organism at very low concentrations.
In the last decade, national and statewide studies have revealed that many chemicals with known or suggested endocrine-disrupting potential are found in the aquatic environment. These chemicals include pharmaceuticals, personal care products, chemicals associated with wastewater effluent, and a variety of industrial compounds. Apart from the disquieting realization that wastewater chemicals and drugs are detectable in much of our surface water, there is a growing concern that even at low concentrations, chemicals, or mixtures of them, may adversely affect fish, wildlife, ecosystems and possibly human health.
- Pharmaceuticals, Personal Care Products and Endocrine Active Chemical Monitoring in Lakes and Rivers — 2013
- Pharmaceuticals and Endocrine Active Chemicals in Minnesota Lakes
- Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products in Minnesota's Rivers and Streams: tdr-g1-17
- Statewide Endocrine Disrupting Compound Monitoring Study, 2007 - 2008
- Wastewater Treatment Plant Study, 2009-2011
- Wastewater Treatment Plant Endocrine Disrupting Chemical Monitoring Study
- Endocrine Active Compound Monitoring in Minnesota Lakes, 2009-2011 - Lake Habitat and Land Use
- Report on Endocrine Disrupting Compounds (2008)
- Endocrine Disrupting Compounds
- Endocrine Active Chemicals and Other Contaminants of Emerging Concern in Minnesota’s Groundwater, 2009-2010
- Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals in Minnesota Lakes — Water-Quality and Hydrological Data from 2008 and 2010
- Steroidal Hormones and Other Related Compounds in Shallow Groundwater in Nonagricultural Areas of Minnesota—Study Design, Methods, and Data, 2009-2010
- Endocrine Active Chemicals, Pharmaceuticals, and Other Chemicals of Concern in Surface Water, Wastewater-Treatment Plant Effluent, and Bed Sediment, and Biological Characteristics in Selected Streams, Minnesota—Design, Methods, and Data, 2009
- Anthropogenic tracers, endocrine disrupting chemicals, and endocrine disruption in Minnesota lakes
- Alkylphenols, Other Endocrine-Active Chemicals, and Fish Responses in Three Streams in Minnesota — Study Design and Data, February–September 2007
- Occurrence of Endocrine Active Compounds and Biological Responses in the Mississippi River—Study Design and Data, June through August 2006