Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Rabbit's food brings luck in decreasing estrogen levels in wastewater

Date:
November 2, 2010
Source:
University of Cincinnati
Summary:
New experiments show that rabbit's food (composed of organic vegetable matter) can decrease estrogen levels in wastewater by more than 80 percent. The research could point to inexpensive treatment technologies and materials for reducing estrogen hormones in wastewater.

UC's Ruth Marfil-Vega and Makram Suidan at Cincinnati's Mill Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant. They were part of the research team that experimented with rabbit's food as a treatment to decrease estrogen levels in wastewater in the lab.
Credit: Photo by Dottie Stover

Experiments at the University of Cincinnati show that rabbit's food resulted in the abiotic (non-biological) transformation and absorption of four different types of estrogen, reducing the levels of these estrogen hormones by more than 80 percent in wastewater.

The research, published in the November 2010 issue of the journal Environmental Pollution, has practical implications since it could point to inexpensive treatment technologies and materials for reducing estrogens in wastewater.

Currently, estrogen in wastewater represents a major conduit for the entry of the hormone, whether in its naturally occurring forms or synthetic form (birth-control pills), into the environment. There, it's believed the hormone causes responses in the endocrine systems of fish, birds and other wildlife in and around streams and rivers, groundwater, sediments and sludge. In other words, causing effects in wildlife such as the presence of both male and female sex organs, feminization of males, abnormal and malformed reproductive organs, skewed sex ratios, reduced fertility and more.

Population growth and the use of synthetic estrogens (birth-control pills) have increased the presence of the hormone (both in its naturally occurring forms and its synthetic forms) in the environment.

Rabbit Food and the Estrogen Effect

In their study, authors Makram Suidan, UC professor of environmental engineering; Mark Mills, research engineer with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's National Risk Management Research Laboratory; and Ruth Marfil-Vega, UC doctoral student in environmental engineering, detail their success in harnessing natural materials in improving the removal of estrogen from the environment.

The experiments hold great promise, according to lead author Makram Suidan because "it would be an inexpensive process to replicate in wastewater treatment plants and because the UC experiments with the rabbit food proved effective in dramatically reducing the levels of naturally occurring estrogens but also the synthetic estrogen, which typically has the longest staying power in wastewater and the environment."

While the UC team tested a variety of materials -- clays, casein (a protein molecule found in cheese and milk), tryptone (an amino acid) and starch -- only the rabbit food proved effective in greatly reducing estrogen levels. In fact, in testing the clays, casein, tryptone and starch for effects on wastewater hormone levels, the UC experiments found that these four alternate materials only reduced wastewater estrogen levels by 10 percent.

Stated Suidan, "We are now experimenting to find out, specifically, why the rabbit food proved so effective in reducing estrogen levels. Rabbit food was a material we chose because, unlike dog food, rabbit food is hormone free. Rabbit food is merely ground up, organic vegetable matter -- not unlike vegetable matter that could safely be added to wastewater."

The experiments were repeated several times using synthetic wastewater in stainless steel containers (to avoid any absorption of the tested hormones that might have been possible with plastic containers). As stated, the rabbit food reduced the levels of the four estrogens by more than 80 percent after a 72-hour contact period.

Explained Suidan, "While absorption of estrogen by the rabbit food played some role, we believe that a catalytic process occurred, meaning the estrogen compounds appeared to bind to the rabbit food when oxygen was present."

No Effect on Male Hormones Found in Wastewater

In the experiments, the UC team not only tested materials that might reduce estrogen levels in wastewater but also tested the efficacy of these same materials (rabbit food, casein, clays, tryptone and starch) in reducing the levels of male hormones (testosterone, androstenedione and progesterone) in wastewater.

However, none of the treatment materials -- including the rabbit food -- had any effect on the presence of these male hormone levels in the wastewater.

The research was internally funded.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Cincinnati. The original article was written by M.B. Reilly. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Ruth Marfil-Vega, Makram T. Suidan, Marc A. Mills. Abiotic transformation of estrogens in synthetic municipal wastewater: An alternative for treatment? Environmental Pollution, 2010; 158 (11): 3372 DOI: 10.1016/j.envpol.2010.07.042

Cite This Page:

University of Cincinnati. "Rabbit's food brings luck in decreasing estrogen levels in wastewater." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 November 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101101093604.htm>.
University of Cincinnati. (2010, November 2). Rabbit's food brings luck in decreasing estrogen levels in wastewater. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101101093604.htm
University of Cincinnati. "Rabbit's food brings luck in decreasing estrogen levels in wastewater." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101101093604.htm (accessed April 25, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Friday, April 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deadly Fungus Killing Bats, Spreading in US

Deadly Fungus Killing Bats, Spreading in US

AP (Apr. 24, 2014) A disease that has killed more than six million cave-dwelling bats in the United States is on the move and wildlife biologists are worried. White Nose Syndrome, discovered in New York in 2006, has now spread to 25 states. (April 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Pictures of Ship That Sank in 1888

New Pictures of Ship That Sank in 1888

AP (Apr. 24, 2014) Federal researchers have released new images of the City of Chester, a steamship that sank in San Francisco Bay in 1888. Researchers recently found the shipwreck while mapping shipping routes. (April 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Risk of Asteroid Hitting Earth Higher Than Thought, Study Shows

Risk of Asteroid Hitting Earth Higher Than Thought, Study Shows

Reuters - US Online Video (Apr. 23, 2014) A group of space explorers say the chance of a city-obliterating asteroid striking Earth is higher than scientists previously believed. Deborah Gembara reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
UN Joint Mission Starts Removing Landmines in Cyprus

UN Joint Mission Starts Removing Landmines in Cyprus

AFP (Apr. 23, 2014) The UN mission in Cyprus (UNFICYP) led a mine clearance demonstration on Wednesday in the UN-controlled buffer zone where demining operations are being conducted near the Cypriot village of Mammari. Duration: 01:00 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins