Estrogenic compounds have been shown to be present in surface waters, leading to concerns over their possible presence in finished drinking waters. In this work, two in vitro human cell line bioassays for estrogenicity were used to evaluate the removal of estrogens through conventional drinking water treatment using a natural water. Bench-scale studies utilizing chlorine, alum coagulation, ferric chloride coagulation, and powdered activated carbon (PAC) were conducted using Ohio River water spiked with three estrogens, 17β-estradiol, 17α-ethynylestradiol, and estriol. Treatment of the estrogens with chlorine, either alone or with coagulant, resulted in approximately 98% reductions in the concentrations of the parent estrogens, accompanied by formation of by-products. The MVLN reporter gene and MCF-7 cell proliferation assays were used to characterize the estrogenic activity of the water before and after treatment. The observed estrogenic activities of the chlorinated samples showed that estrogenicity of the water was reduced commensurate with removal of the parent estrogen. Therefore, the estrogen chlorination by-products did not contribute appreciably to the estrogenic activity of the water. Coagulation alone did not result in significant removals of the estrogens. However, addition of PAC, at a typical drinking water plant dose, resulted in removals ranging from approximately 20 to 80%.

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