Catalysts created by Carnegie Mellon University chemist Terrence J. Collins effectively and safely remove a potent and dangerous endocrine disruptor from wastewater.
In a paper published in Scientific Reports, Collins’ research team and collaborators led by Brunel University London’s Susan Jobling and Rak Kanda demonstrate that the catalysts could be a viable option for large-scale water treatment.
As pharmaceutical use has skyrocketed, especially in first-world countries, the amount of drugs released into the water system through wastewater has dramatically increased. Medications designed to disrupt the endocrine system, such as birth control pills and some breast and prostate cancer drugs, can be found in close to 25 percent of the world’s streams, rivers and lakes. Studies have shown that these compounds have an adverse effect on the health of wildlife.
In many cases, researchers are finding that male fish in these polluted water sources undergo a process called feminization, which is an indicator that estrogenic contaminants are present in the water. Prolonged exposure to these female hormones can cause males to develop eggs in their testes and leads to the decline of fish populations.