Background: Surface waters receive a variety of organic pollutants via wastewater discharge, and sediment represents a sink for hydrophobic contaminants. In this study, we used in vitro yeast-based reporter gene assays and a Bacillus subtilis Rec-assay to examine the occurrence of endocrine disrupting activities and genotoxic potentials in samples collected from three Taiwanese rivers. Levels of 51 polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in muscles of fish captured from same rivers were also analyzed to assess in vivo pollution of PAHs. Results: Antagonist activities for androgen receptor and retinoid X receptor (RXR) were detected in river water extracts at environmentally relevant concentrations., and sediment extracts exhibited RXR agonist, RXR antagonist, and genotoxic potentials concurrently. ς16 PAHs in fish muscles ranged from 44.9-242.4 ng g- 1 dry weight, representing 38 to 59% of the total 51 PAHs concentrations, and methylated PAHs of low molecular weight PAHs were often detected as well. Conclusion: Taiwanese river sediment samples concomitantly exhibited RXR disrupting potentials and genotoxic activities, whereas RXR agonist and antagonist activities were simultaneously detected in several dry-season sediment extracts. PAH levels in fish muscles were categorized as minimally polluted by aromatic compounds, nonetheless, the presence of methylated PAHs in muscles samples may be of concern owing to the higher toxic potentials than their parent compounds.
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