(HealthDay News) – The majority of water samples collected from sites in a natural gas drilling-dense region of Colorado have higher levels of estrogenic, anti-estrogenic, or anti-androgenic activities than control sites with limited nearby drilling operations, according to a study published online Dec. 16 in Endocrinology.

Christopher D. Kassotis, from University of Missouri in Columbia, and colleagues collected water samples in the drilling-dense region of Garfield County, CO. Samples underwent solid-phase extraction and were measured for estrogen and androgen receptor activities using reporter gene assays in human cell lines.

The researchers found that, of the 39 unique water samples, 89% exhibited estrogenic activities, 41% anti-estrogenic, 12% androgenic, and 46% anti-androgenic. There were novel anti-estrogenic, novel anti-androgenic, and limited estrogenic activities found when testing a subset of natural gas drilling chemicals. There were moderate levels of estrogenic, anti-estrogenic, and anti-androgenic activities in testing of the Colorado River, the drainage basin for this region. This suggests that higher localized activity at sites with known natural gas related spills surrounding the river might be contributing to the multiple receptor activities observed in this water source.

“Our data suggest that natural gas drilling operations may result in elevated endocrine disrupting chemical activity in surface and ground water,” the authors conclude.

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