Endocrine Disruptors

Both natural and synthetic endocrine disruptors occur in wastewater, including estrogen, PCBs, plasticizers, parabens, phthalates, detergents, and pesticides. These chemicals disrupt organisms’ natural endocrine (hormone) systems, altering key functions such as reproduction, tissue growth, and immune response. Most of the research on impacts of endocrine disruptors focuses on effects on marine animals and shows that a diverse group can be impacted; from corals, to fish, to oysters, to worms (Depledge & Billinghurst, 1999; Matthiessen et al., 2017; Tarrant et al., 2004). Corals, oysters, and mussels are the marine habitat-forming species that are most susceptible. In these species, endocrine disruptors can reduce the size and number of egg and sperm bundles and reduce growth rates (Wear & Vega Thurber, 2015). Additionally, some studies suggest that endocrine-disrupting compounds may have a negative impact on human health, with exposures at early stages of development presenting greater risks (Kabir et al., 2015).