In vitro bioassays to evaluate complex chemical mixtures in recycled water
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With burgeoning population and diminishing availability of freshwater resources, the world continues to expand the use of alternative water resources for drinking, and the quality of these sources has been a great concern for the public as well as public health professionals. In vitro bioassays are increasingly being used to enable rapid, relatively inexpensive toxicity screening that can be used in conjunction with analytical chemistry data to evaluate water quality and the effectiveness of water treatment. In this study, a comprehensive bioassay battery consisting of 36 bioassays covering 18 biological endpoints was applied to screen the bioactivity of waters of varying qualities with parallel treatments. Samples include wastewater effluent, ultraviolet light (UV) and/or ozone advanced oxidation processed (AOP) recycled water, and infiltrated recycled groundwater. Based on assay sensitivity and detection frequency in the samples, several endpoints were highlighted in the battery, including assays for genotoxicity, mutagenicity, estrogenic activity, glucocorticoid activity, arylhydrocarbon receptor activity, oxidative stress response, and cytotoxicity. Attenuation of bioactivity was found to be dependent on the treatment process and bioassay endpoint. For instance, ozone technology significantly removed oxidative stress activity, while UV based technologies were most efficient for the attenuation of glucocorticoid activity. Chlorination partially attenuated genotoxicity and greatly decreased herbicidal activity, while groundwater infiltration efficiently attenuated most of the evaluated bioactivity with the exception of genotoxicity. In some cases, bioactivity (e.g., mutagenicity, genotoxicity, and arylhydrocarbon receptor) increased following water treatment, indicating that transformation products of water treatment may be a concern. Furthermore, several types of bioassays with the same endpoint were compared in this study, which could help guide the selection of optimized methods in future studies. Overall, this research indicates that a battery of bioassays can be used to support decision-making on the application of advanced water treatment processes for removal of bioactivity.
Immunological and Bioassay Methods