This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Development of an Analytical Method for Quantification of Endocrine-Disrupting Phytoestrogenic Compounds in Estuarine Environment Using UHPLC-MS/MS




Qi, Jingyi

Type of Degree

Master's Thesis


Civil Engineering


Endocrine disrupting compounds (EDCs) are nearly ubiquitous in the daily lives of individuals around the globe. Phytoestrogenic polyphenols (PEPPs, also known as phytoestrogens) represent a subgroup of EDCs. They are naturally occurring chemicals that possess estrogen-mimicking effects. Some literature has reported deteriorative influences of PEPPs on reproductive function of many aquatic species. However, the links between detected impacts on living organisms in natural ecosystems and potential sources of PEPP exposure are not fully understood. One reason for this is our inability to quantitate multiple PEPPs at trace concentrations in environmental matrices. In this study, an improved UHPLC-ESI-MS/MS method was developed and validated to simultaneously quantify 15 PEPPs in sediment and surface water. The method was demonstrated by analyzing samples collected from the Perdido Bay estuarine system in coastal Alabama. No compounds were found above detectable levels in sediment samples examined; however, enterolactone was detected and quantitated in the majority of the surface water samples. Highest enterolactone concentrations were found in samples collected from two freshwater tributaries discharging into Perdido Bay. The developed and validated quantitative method can be used to better understand the fate and transport of these chemicals in natural environments and their potential effects on living resources. The method can be further developed in future studies to broaden the number PEPP analytes and method applicability to a variety of matrices, including wastewater, biofilms, algae, and groundwater.