Towards regulation of Endocrine Disrupting chemicals (EDCs) in water resources using bioassays – A guide to developing a testing strategy
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Endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) are found in every environmental medium and are chemically diverse. Their presence in water resources can negatively impact the health of both human and wildlife. Currently, there are no mandatory screening mandates or regulations for EDC levels in complex water samples globally. Bioassays, which allow quantifying in vivo or in vitro biological effects of chemicals are used commonly to assess acute toxicity in water. The existing OECD framework to identify single-compound EDCs offers a set of bioassays that are validated for the Estrogen-, Androgen-, and Thyroid hormones, and for Steroidogenesis pathways (EATS). In this review, we discussed bioassays that could be potentially used to screen EDCs in water resources, including in vivo and in vitro bioassays using invertebrates, fish, amphibians, and/or mammalians species. Strengths and weaknesses of samples preparation for complex water samples are discussed. We also review how to calculate the Effect-Based Trigger values, which could serve as thresholds to determine if a given water sample poses a risk based on existing quality standards. This work aims to assist governments and regulatory agencies in developing a testing strategy towards regulation of EDCs in water resources worldwide. The main recommendations include 1) opting for internationally validated cell reporter in vitro bioassays to reduce animal use & cost; 2) testing for cell viability (a critical parameter) when using in vitro bioassays; and 3) evaluating the recovery of the water sample preparation method selected. This review also highlights future research avenues for the EDC screening revolution (e.g., 3D tissue culture, transgenic animals, OMICs, and Adverse Outcome Pathways (AOPs)).
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