Kersten Van Langenhove1, Tim Reyns2, Tara Vandermarken1, Pierre Servais3, Michael S. Denison4, Joris Van Loco2, Marc Elskens1
Organization(s): 1: Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Department of Analytical, Environmental and Geo-Chemistry, Pleinlaan 2, 1050 Brussels, Belgium; 2: Wetenschappelijk Instituut voor Volksgezondheid, Rue Juliette Wytsmanstraat 14, 1050 Brussels, Belgium; 3: Université Libre de Bruxelles, Ecologie des Systèmes Aquatiques, Av. Franklin Roosevelt 50, 1050 Brussels, Belgium; 4: University of California, Davis, Department of Environmental Toxicology, One Shields Avenue, Davis, CA 95616, USA

Endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) are gaining in worldwide attention due to their omnipresence, wide range in chemical properties and possible effects on wildlife populations. Problems with these EDCs are their continuous release into the environment (industrial, domestic, inefficient removal). For this reason, the Water Framework Directive (amended in 2013/39/EU) established a priority list of 33 new and 8 old pollutants and also placed 15 compounds (including estrogens) onto a watch list.

Rather than looking solely for concentrations of targeted and well-known EDCs, this project strives to combine bio-analytical and chemo-analytical data on the Zenne river crossing Brussels and hospital effluents (a potential major source for EDCs due to high consumption of pharmaceuticals and personal care products) for the first time. Bioassays allow scientists to use in vitro receptor models to assess endocrine activity by comparing the mixture or cocktail effect originating from the sample extract.

Samples are extracted using Oasis HLB SPE columns and analyzed with human ovarian adenocarcinoma (BG1) cells transfected with a luciferase reporter gene (BG1Luc4E2 CALUX assay). Over a 12 month sampling period, bioassay values ranged from 0.68 to 16.53ng EEQ/L for the Zenne river water and from 67.40 to 231ng EEQ/L for hospital effluent. WWTP effluent values ranged from 0.96 - 6.62ng EEQ/L and influent levels from 17.6 - 88.8ng EEQ/L. Results indicate that effluent values are high post-discharge of human activities, EDCs are only partially removed by processes in WWTPs, and that effluents can contribute significantly to EDC loads in the Zenne river.

Kersten Van Langenhove

Kersten Van Langenhove is currently a Post-Doctoral Researcher within the Analytical, Environmental & Geo-Chemistry lab at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) through an Anticipate prospective research mandate funded by Innoviris, the Brussels Institute for Research & Innovation. In this function he is primarily active on the topic of endocrine disrupting and active compounds in aquatic environments using both in vitro reporter gene assays and chemical UHPLC-MS/MS tools for semi-quantification and identification, studying their sources and fate in surface waters, treatment plants and hospital effluent located in the Brussel Capital Region.

He received his Bachelor and Master degree from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) and enrolled there also for a PhD which he obtained in 2014. His research was focused on the method optimization of the CALUX bioassay and also on the implementation during a large scale study on PCDD/Fs and dioxin-like PCBs in sludges and general bio-waste applicable to agricultural land. In this project he cooperated with both CODA-CERVA and ULg for sample collection and GC-IDHRMS analysis of dioxins, and received bioassay training at the EURL for dioxins and PCBs in food and feed located in Freiburg, Germany.

Aside from his professional career, Kersten is also a member of the Royal Flemish Chemical Society (KVCV), a member society of EuCheMS, since 2011. As of August 2014 he has taken up the role of secretary of the youth division (Jong-KVCV) responsible for science popularization through the organization of evening lectures, science days for the general public and international scientific conferences for young researchers.