Of all the synthetic hormones we use, estrogens are probably the most common. They are used for birth control as well as hormone replacement therapy. This researcher also shows that there is plenty of it in milk because dairy cows are often pregnant while they are being milked.

Estrogen is a sturdy compound, very much like cholesterol. I was wondering if anyone had any idea how long it would survive in the environment, given that some people are concerned about it interrupting animals life cycles. How fast does it break down in the wild?

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    $\begingroup$ As in, in the air..? $\endgroup$
    – Armatus
    Commented Jun 5, 2012 at 19:40
  • $\begingroup$ estrogens have negligible concentration in the air. they would tend to be in the ground or in water taken in by plants an animals. $\endgroup$
    – shigeta
    Commented Jun 6, 2012 at 4:55

1 Answer 1


Months to years - although the actual duration in a specific environment depends on the nature of that environment and is tied to oxygen level. Higher oxygen, faster degradation. Less oxygen, the estrogen molecules interconvert among various closely related molecules which hampers both their detection and their degradation.

For more info, please see: Environmental science: The hidden costs of flexible fertility (Nature 485, 441 (24 May 2012)) and this Science Daily article.

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    $\begingroup$ Thanks for telling me about doi links and doing it for me in this case. $\endgroup$
    – blues
    Commented Jun 5, 2012 at 23:31

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