Global research shows that treated municipal wastewaters still contain some xenobiotics. Progestins (also known as progestogens) are an important group of such compounds. They are contained e.g. in hormonal contraception and in other hormonal preparations what predisposes them to have a broad therapeutic use. Thus, progestins occur in municipal wastewaters and their concentrations rather tend to increase. Progestins can pass through municipal wastewater treatment plants unchanged and then contaminate surface waters. Indeed, various studies have shown their presence in surface waters worldwide. In some cases, progestins were found in surface waters at levels that exceed the concentrations inducing adverse effects on aquatic organisms under laboratory conditions. Despite that there are only few pieces of information on this topic, the risk posed by progestins for the aquatic environment should not be underestimated. Given that progestins mimic natural hormones, their uncontrolled entry into a body can seriously disrupt the established hormonal balance and could result in a myriad of other consequent adverse effects.

For these reasons, scientists from the Faculty of Fisheries and Protection of Waters in Vodňany (under the University of South Bohemia in České Budějovice) aim at screening of the occurrence of progestins and the related hormonal (progestagenic) activities in Czech aquatic environment. They focus on the “risky” localities including effluents from wastewater treatment plants and the respective downstream surface waters. Along with monitoring of occurrence of progestins and hormonal activities, experiments in laboratory were carried out in order to determine progestagenic activity of these compounds. It has been revealed that progestins do not occur at such a high levels in effluents from Czech wastewater treatment plants as they do in other European and Asian countries. Nevertheless, due to continuously increasing consumption of hormonal preparations and broadening their use, this issue deserves further attention. Results of this research also indicate which compounds, out of a wide spectrum of progestins, could pose the highest risk for the aquatic environment and therefore they should get the highest priority in further testing. These include medroxyprogesteron acetate, megestrol acetate and progesterone, which have been detected most frequently at studied localities and also possess relatively strong hormonal (progestagenic) activity.

The implementation of the current research has been ongoing for three years and is financially supported by the Grant Agency of the Czech Republic (16-09709Y). Samples of wastewater have been provided by following institutions: ČEVAK, a.s.; TSST Strakonice s.r.o., BVK, a.s. a STU Bratislava.

Detailed information on obtained results can be found in publication: Šauer, P., Stará, A., Golovko, O., Valentová, O., Bořík, A., Grabic, R., Kocour Kroupová, H., 2018. Two synthetic progestins and natural progesterone are responsible for most of the progestagenic activities in municipal wastewater treatment plant effluents in the Czech and Slovak republics. Water Research 137: 64-71.

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