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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract - Atmospheric Pollutants and Trace Gases

Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) and Estrogenic Compounds in Experimental Flue Gas Streams


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 32 No. 2, p. 417-422
    Received: Nov 30, 2001

    * Corresponding author(s): Willy.Verstraete@rug.ac.be
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  1. W. Muthumbia,
  2. P. De Boeverabc,
  3. J. G. Pietersb,
  4. S. Sicilianoa,
  5. W. D'Hoogec and
  6. W. Verstraete *a
  1. a Laboratory of Microbial Ecology and Technology, (LabMET), Faculty of Agricultural and Applied Biological Sciences, Ghent University, Coupure Links 653, 9000 Ghent, Belgium
    b Biosystems Engineering, Ghent University, Coupure Links 653, 9000 Ghent, Belgium
    c Endocrinology, Ghent University Hospital, De Pintelaan 185, 9000 Ghent, Belgium


The importance of combustion processes as a source of substances with estrogenic activity in the environment was investigated. Wood (nontreated and treated with wood preservatives), barbecue charcoal, meat, and kitchen waste were combusted in a laboratory-scale incinerator. Flue gas emissions (particulates and gaseous pollutants) were trapped in polyurethane foam cartridges. The cartridges were subjected to Soxhlet extraction and part of the extracts redissolved in dimethylsulfoxide (DMSO) for analyses of estrogenic activity by means of the yeast-based human estrogen receptor (hER) bioassay. A synthetic estrogen, 17-α-ethinylestradiol (EE2), was used as the reference estrogenic compound. Part of the extracts was analyzed for the 16 USEPA priority polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Estrogenic compounds in the flue gas (wood) were as high as 234 ± 25 ng m−3 EE2 equivalent compared with 27 to 81 ng m−3 EE2 equivalent in flue gas from combustion of barbecue charcoal. Concentrations of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in both flue gas streams were in the range of 21 000 ± 2000 and 240 ± 110 ng m−3, respectively. In general, the concentrations of EE2 equivalent in the flue gas samples were at least a factor of 1000 lower than total PAH concentration. The EE2 levels were not related to the concentration of PAHs in any flue gas sample.

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Copyright © 2003. American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Soil Science SocietyPublished in J. Environ. Qual.32:417–422.