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Role of estrogens from agriculture

25. May 2021, Topic: Aquatic Ecotoxicology

Role of estrogens from agriculture

The occurrence of endocrine disruptors in water bodies worldwide is a cause for concern. Agriculture can also contribute to the presence of estrogens in the environment through their discharge by farm animals. A joint study by Agroscope and the Ecotox Centre, however, has shown that these discharges are less of a problem than feared: the substances do reach the fields via the manure, but are efficiently retained there by the filter effect of the soil. Only a very small portion of the estrogens in the catchment area of Lake Baldegg, which was investigated here, entered the water bodies. Potentially critical concentrations were never reached there for more than one day. If watercourses were also influenced by effluent from wastewater treatment plants in addition to agriculture, the found estrogens originated predominantly from humans, even if the livestock density was high. The researchers conclude therefore that estrogen pollution from agricultural sources is less problematic for water bodies than estrogen pollution from wastewater treatment plants.


Rechsteiner, D., Wettstein, F.E., Vermeirssen, E.L.M., Hollender, J., Bucheli, T.D. (2021) Estrogene von Nutztieren: Matchentscheidend oder kaum relevant für die Gewässerbelastung? Aqua & Gas 4, 40-46

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Dr. Etienne Vermeirssen
Dr. Etienne Vermeirssen Send mail Tel. +41 58 765 5295

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