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Steroids May Persist Longer In The Environment Than Expected

Update Date: Sep 27, 2013 11:04 AM EDT

It is believed that when certain steroid and pharmaceutical products are discharged into waterways, compounds gradually degrade and ecological risks naturally decline.

But the belief might not be true every time. Some of the bioactive organic compounds may transform in a way that makes it harder to gradually degrade, a new study suggests.

The study led by the University of Iowa has found that anabolic steroid trenbolone acetate and two other drugs might not be degrading as quickly.

Trenbolone was once popular among the bodybuilding community but has since been banned sometime ago.

“We’re finding a chemical that is broadly utilized, to behave in a way that is different from all our existing regulatory and risk-assessment paradigms,” says David Cwiertny, assistant professor in engineering at the University of Iowa and a co-corresponding author on the paper.

“What our work hopefully will do is help us better understand and assess the environmental fate of emerging contaminant classes. There are a variety of bioactive pharmaceuticals and personal-care products that we know are present in trace amounts in our water supply. We should use what we’re learning about trenbolone to more closely scrutinize the fate and better mitigate the impact of these products in the environment,” he later added.

Researchers found similar results for dienogest, which is a hormone used in birth-control pill called Natazia.

Earlier steroid was considered safe due to its rapid degradation but the recent study shows it is harmful for aquatic life if found concentrated.

“We rarely see fish kills anymore, and we probably aren’t discharging many carcinogens into surface waters anymore. But I don’t believe this necessarily means that our water is safe for aquatic organisms,” says Edward Kolodziej, associate professor in engineering at the University of Nevada-Reno.

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