Skip Links

USGS - science for a changing world

Data Series 368

Prepared in cooperation with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and St. Cloud State University

Occurrence of Endocrine Active Compounds and Biological Responses in the Mississippi River—Study Design and Data, June through August 2006

By Kathy E. Lee1 , Christine S. Yaeger1, Nathan D. Jahns2 , and Heiko L. Schoenfuss2

1U.S. Geological Survey   2St. Cloud State University

Thumbnail of and link to report PDF (2.0 MB)


Concern that selected chemicals in the environment may act as endocrine active compounds in aquatic ecosystems is widespread; however, few studies have examined the occurrence of endocrine active compounds and identified biological markers of endocrine disruption such as intersex occurrence in fish longitudinally in a river system. This report presents environmental data collected and analyzed by the U.S. Geological Survey, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and St. Cloud State University as part of an integrated biological and chemical study of endocrine disruption in fish in the Mississippi River. Data were collected from water, bed sediment, and fish at 43 sites along the river from the headwaters at Lake Itasca to 14 miles downstream from Brownsville, Minnesota during June through August 2006.

Twenty-four individual compounds were detected in water samples, with cholesterol, atrazine, N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide, metolachlor, and hexahydrohexamethylcyclopentabenzopyran detected most frequently (in at least 10 percent of the samples). The number of compounds detected in water per site ranged from 0 to 8.

Forty individual compounds were detected in bed-sediment samples. The most commonly detected compounds (in at least 50 percent of the samples) were indole, beta-sitosterol, cholesterol, beta-stigmastanol, 3-methyl-1H-indole, p-cresol, pyrene, phenol, fluoranthene, 3-beta coprostanol, benzo[a]pyrene, acetophenone, and 2,6-dimethylnaphthalene. The total number of detections in bed sediment (at a site) ranged from 3 to 31. The compounds NP1EO, NP2EO, and 4-nonylphenol were detected in greater than 10 percent of the samples.

Most (80 percent) female fish collected had measurable concentrations of vitellogenin. Vitellogenin also was detected in 62, 63, and 33 percent of male carp, smallmouth bass, and redhorse, respectively. The one male walleye sample plasma sample analyzed had a vitellogenin detection. Vitellogenin concentrations were lower in male fish (not detected to 10.80 micrograms per milliliter) than female fish (0.04 to 248,079 micrograms per milliliter). Gonadosomatic Index values ranged from 0.02 to 7.49 percent among all male fish and were greater for male carp than for the other three species. No intersex (oocytes present in testes tissue) was found in any male fish sampled.

Version 1.0

Posted September 2008

For additional information contact:
Director, USGS Minnesota Water Science Center
2280 Woodale Drive
Mounds View, Minnesota 55112
(763) 783-3100

Or visit the Minnesota Water Science Center Web site at:

Part or all of this report is presented in Portable Document Format (PDF); the latest version of Adobe Reader or similar software is required to view it. Download the latest version of Adobe Reader, free of charge.

Suggested citation:

Lee, K.E., Yaeger, C.S., Jahns, N.D., and Schoenfuss, H.L., 2008, Occurrence of endocrine active compounds and biological responses in the Mississippi River—study design and data, June through August 2006: U.S. Geological Survey Data Series 368, 27 p. with Appendix.




Purpose and Scope



Study Design

Site Selection and Data Collection Methods

Water, Bed Sediment, and Fish Data


Selected References

Appendixes 1–7

Accessibility FOIA Privacy Policies and Notices

Take Pride in America logo logo U.S. Department of the Interior | U.S. Geological Survey
URL: http:// /ds/368/index.html
Page Contact Information: Contact USGS
Page Last Modified: Monday, 28-Nov-2016 13:05:44 EST