Dave Griffith, Marine Chemistry & Geochemistry


The fate of natural and synthetic steroidal estrogens in the coastal ocean

The first stages of my thesis research have focused on developing methods to measure a wide range of estrogens in coastal waters. With the support of COI Student Research Funds, I have made good progress towards this end. Specifically, we have successfully separated 10 different estrogens (4 free, 4 conjugated, and 2 brominated) using high performance liquid chromatography, and determined detection limits for each using both ESI(-) and APCI(+) ionization methods. On-column detection limits range from 10 – 300 picograms (pg) depending on the compound, and instrumental responses are linear over a large range (10 – 5000 pg). We have also run preliminary tests using Massachusetts Bay seawater extracts and found evidence of estrogens, although muted internal standard responses point towards significant matrix effects that have yet to be resolved in environmental samples. Elizabeth Kujawinski and I were fortunate to receive funding through the most recent COI call for proposals to continue honing our methods and extending it to an expanded set of environmental samples from sewage effluent streams and Massachusetts Bay water. This would not have been possible without COI Student Research Funds.