Measuring and Addressing the Presence and Impact of Endocrine Disrupting Compounds from Anthropogenic Sources in Waterways
Many of the pharmaceuticals, household and personal care products that are used and consumed on a daily basis contain compounds that are classified or suspected to be endocrine disruptors. To increase monitoring efforts and consumer awareness over the presence of endocrine disrupting compounds (EDCs) in waterways, a citizen science campaign was conducted in the Pennsylvania portion of the Susquehanna River Basin (SRB) in May 2018, September 2019, and June 2021. During each campaign, fifty to sixty citizen scientists calculated their household’s EDC footprint and collected a surface water sample from locations across the Pennsylvania portion of the SRB. Samples were analyzed for thirty-five EDCs spanning five classes (antimicrobial, UV filters, parabens, phthalates, and soluble fragrances) that are commonly found in household and personal care products. Following the conclusion of each campaign, individualized reports were emailed to citizen scientists with results and guidance for how they can reduce their EDC footprint. Lastly, to understand how participation in this EDC citizen science campaign could have increased consumer awareness of and potentially help address the presence of EDCs in consumer products and waterways, a cross-sectional survey was administered to the fifty-nine citizen scientists that participated in the final EDC campaign in June 2021. The survey was designed to assess the experiences, backgrounds, and perceived impacts (i.e., awareness and attitude) of those who participated in the EDC campaign. Overall, the datasets provided from these studies highlight the presence, potential sources, and impacts of EDCs in the aquatic environment, as well as the potential for citizen science to address some of these sources to ultimately help enhance water quality and protect aquatic health.