By Renee Duffey and Luke McEachron
Water quality throughout the Florida Keys remains a principal management concern because pollutants can have significant impacts on fish, wildlife and sensitive reef systems. In recent years there has been increasing concern regarding environmental effects of endocrine disruptors (EDCs). EDCs are commonly found in pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCP), pesticides and other household products. Endocrine disruptors mimic hormones and can cause a wide range of health problems in humans, fish, and wildlife even at small doses.
EDC occurrence has been documented by several studies throughout Florida, however, no single spatial database or map has organized historic and current EDC sampling throughout the FKNMS, or the Florida Reef Tract, despite widespread recognition that EDCs are a threat to biological and economic resources. To address this need, the Information Science and Management section initiated a one-year project to summarize the type, concentrations, sampling gaps and distribution of endocrine-disrupting compounds (EDC) primarily in the Florida Keys.
We compiled 15 datasets representing approximately 951 unique sampling locations and 621 chemicals. Of the over 600 chemicals included in the database, only 91 chemicals were federally listed by EPA as known endocrine disruptors (2009, 2013). While not federally listed, numerous chemicals have potential endocrine disrupting properties documented in the scientific literature and by non-federal authorities (e.g., World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations (UN)). Consequently, we expanded the scope of the project to include potential EDCs and also chemicals that either indicate human by-products (e.g., caffeine, sucralose, cholesterol and other human waste indicators).
Unlike other routine water quality monitoring programs, EDC sampling was generally isolated to one or two sampling events and/or targeted specific locations. Lack of long-term, consistent sampling presents challenges when assessing spatial or temporal patterns in EDC concentrations. Additionally, very few chemicals of the 621 we identified in this study were sampled by more than one data provider. Differences in laboratory detection limits between data providers also makes comparisons difficult, particularly for EDC concentrations which are often at or below detection limits.
Data compiled by this project are available online via the Endocrine-disrupting compounds (EDCs) in the Florida Keys Story Map. A Story Map combines maps with narrative text, images, and multimedia content to create compelling, user-friendly web apps.