8 June 2007
The potential impact of natural and synthetic estrogens on aquatic ecosystems has attracted considerable attention because it is currently accepted that their joint effects are more severe when they are present in mixtures. Although it is well-known that they occur as mixtures in the marine environment, there is little information about the combined effects of estrogenic chemicals on marine biota.
In 14-day tests with juvenile sea bass, we analyzed singly and in combination the estrogenic activity of estradiol (E 2), ethynylestradiol (EE 2), and bisphenol A (BPA) using vitellogenin induction as an end point.
Fish were exposed to each compound, and on the basis of these concentration–response data, we predicted mixture effects by applying the model of concentration addition. The mixtures were tested using a fixed-ratio design, and the resulting mixture effects were compared to the predictions.
EE 2 was the most potent steroid, with an EC 50 (median effective concentration) of 0.029 μg/L, 3.6 times more potent than E 2 (EC 50 = 0.104 μg/L); BPA was the least potent chemical, with an EC 50 of 77.94 μg/L. The comparative assessment yielded a good agreement between observed and predicted mixture effects.
This study demonstrates the potential hazard of these compounds to seawater life by their ability to act together in an additive manner. It provides evidence that concentration addition can be used as a predictive tool for assessing the combined effects of estrogenic chemicals in marine ecosystems.