Hormones in drinking water - what is the risk?

Again and again rumors emerge that in our drinking water not only remnants of drugs, but even hormones can be found. How far are these rumors, and what is the actual risk? How can you protect yourself against it?

Evidence comes mainly from fish

Anglers report again and again that there is a clearly visible feminization of fish. Wastewater, however, is cleared before being discharged into a so-called receiving water.

However, studies on the Havel have shown that, despite modern sewage treatment technology, about three billionths of a gram of the female hormone estradiol can be detected per liter of river water. The sex hormone is produced in the female ovaries, its blood level rises sharply during pregnancy.

In men, estradiol is also present in very small amounts, it is formed in the testicles and stored in the body. The values ​​are significantly lower than a woman. It is metabolised by men and women in the liver and excreted in the urine.

In addition to estradiol, other sex hormones can be detected, including estrogen. About three quarters of all fish females were exposed to the hormone. For male fish, the effects are fatal, as they greatly reduce their fertility.

Effects of small amounts are not explored

The long-term effects of small amounts of estradiol on the human body have not yet been explored. Because of the low dose scientists do not suspect harmful side effects - at least not for humans.

However, other studies show that the sperm count in men has been declining for years. In recent years, the number of testicular cancers and genital malformations is also increasing. A connection with hormones in drinking water is currently not proven.

Klärtechnik does not help

Overall, the concentration of the substances is too low to be reliably detected without much effort. Hormones are also poorly soluble in water and therefore accumulate in the sediment of water and sewage sludge. From there, a fraction of it can enter waters or groundwater.

The purification stages in sewage treatment plants can not eliminate these substances in the wastewater. An upgrade of sewage treatment plants is considered too expensive and therefore uneconomical and will therefore not take place in the foreseeable future.


Hormones can not usually be removed by simple charcoal filters or other ordinary water filters.

Reverse osmosis offers a possibility. However, these plants consume a lot of energy and produce a lot of wastewater. But you can also help against other drug residues in drinking water.

Tips & Tricks

Mineral waters are also often hormone-contaminated. When bottling certain waters, hormones also enter mineral water bottles.

Video Board: Drugs and Meds lurking in your drinking water