Betreff: Deformed fish found near treatment plants / Plastics Causing Gender Change - Extinctions Possible
Von: "A Voice for Children"
Datum: Sun, 3 Oct 2004 18:13:09 -0700
An: "A Voice for Children"

The "corporate interest" and three generations of exploitation have to stop now.
Deformed fish found near treatment plants

10/3/2004, 5:23 p.m. PT
The Associated Press

DENVER (AP) - Fish with both male and female sex tissue have been discovered
near Colorado wastewater treatment plants on the South Platte River and
Boulder Creek.
 Scientists are trying to determine if chemicals that disrupt hormones, such
as estrogen, are responsible for the gender-bending phenomenon.
Colorado biologist John Woodling discovered the deformed white suckers about
two years ago near two wastewater discharge pipes. Female fish also far
outnumber the male fish near the plants.
"This is the first thing that I've seen as a scientist that really scared
me," said Woodling, 58, a retired fisheries biologist with the Colorado
Division of Wildlife who is now working with the University of Colorado.
Scientists haven't pinpointed which chemicals might be causing the
deformities, but endocrine disrupters that mimic or disrupt hormones,
especially estrogen, are a leading suspect.
Such chemicals are believed to come from excreted birth-control hormones,
natural female hormones and commonly used detergents that are flushed down
toilets and drains.
"We're all concerned about it," said Barbara Biggs, Metro Wastewater
Reclamation District's governmental officer. "We don't want to leap to any
conclusions yet. There are a lot of estrogen sources in the environment."
Over the last 10 years, scientists have documented the impact of endocrine
disrupters on everything from British trout to alligators and polar bears.
Little research has been done, however, on the effects of chronic low-dose
estrogen exposure on humans.
Plastics Causing Gender Change - Extinctions Possible
posted at

Plastics Causing Gender Change - Extinctions Possible
By Mark Townsend
The Hindu Online edition of India's National Newspaper

Scientists now fear that seals, dolphins, otters, birds such asperegrine
falcons and even honey bees are heading towards a unisex existence that
would lead to extinction.

Mother Nature Is Taking Over

An extraordinary feminisation process has begun to affect Britain's
wildlife - and scientists warn it could ultimately dismantle the
evolutionary process that has existed for 3.5billion years. A trend first
noted in whelks is starting to spread rapidly among other wildlife species
in the food chain.

The first national survey of 42 rivers by the UK Environment Agency has just
been completed and it found that a third of male fish are growing female
reproductive tissues and organs. Effects were most pronounced in younger
fish, raising grave implications for future stocks.

More Species Affected

Scientists now fear that seals, dolphins, otters, birds such asperegrine
falcons and even honey bees are heading towards a unisex existence that
would lead to extinction.

Blame has fallen on the increasing prevalence of a group of chemicals known
as endocrine disruptors. These are found in plastics, food packaging,
shampoos and pesticides and accumulate in the environment.

They can mimic the female hormone oestrogen when ingested. A reduction in
the size of male genitals, a lower sex drive and parts of the testes turning
into ovary tissue are among the symptoms. As the effect of the chemicals
starts to creep up the food chain, concern will mount over the potential
effect on human health amid increasing evidence of falling sperm counts and
infertility among men.

A Very Real Concern

Charles Tyler, professor of environmental and molecular fish biology at the
University of Exeter in south-west England, who is leading an international
team studying the impact of so-called `gender-bending' chemicals, warns that
a point where a species can no longer reproduce is a very real concern.

Others studying the phenomenon say the feminisation process is a warning
from nature that a nightmare is about to unfold. Pressure will again resume
soon on politicians to curb the use of `gender-bending' chemicals.

Environmentalists will point to research revealing that honeybees, so vital
for the pollination of plants, were found to display a lower sex drive with
fewer eggs laid by the queen after exposure to endocrine disruptors.

They also point to recent studies involving bottlenose dolphins in the North
Sea. Again, the presence of chemicals has been linked to an increase in
birth defects, most notable among male specimens, along with more infant
deaths, which has resulted in an ageing of the population. So far the U.K.
government has agreed to fund studies into suspicions that the otter's
comeback after decades of decline will be hampered by the feminising effects
of the chemicals.

Ignorance Shows Up

A separate study has just been funded into the dipper, a bird, which feeds
on invertebrates taken from the rivers. Tyler is among those who have
complained that the huge gap in scientific knowledge over gender bending
pollutants has so far prevented any action in the outlawing of chemicals.

Toxicology expert Andreas Kortenkamp of the University of London's school of
pharmacy, believes the government has `grossly underestimated' the
chemicals' effects. He believes that current safeguards to protect wildlife
are grossly inadequate. In particular, he warns that nothing is being done
to calculate how cocktails of chemicals react in the environment. More than
100,000 synthetic chemicals remain authorised for use, with the European
Union holding a list of 550 potential endocrine disruptors.

It is not yet known precisely which ones have altered the male reproductive
organs of bream, carp, roach and gudgeon or caused hormone disruption among
grey seal pups in the North Sea. Bees were found to be affected by chemicals
used commonly on crops in the U.K. countryside.

The findings coincide with renewed concern over fertility levels among men.
Sperm counts have fallen by a third between 1989 and 2002, according to some
studies, while one in six British couples now experiences difficulty in

Contaminated drinking water caused by the by-products of the contraceptive
pill flowing back into the system is one of the explanations put forward.

Justin Woolford, a spokesman for the WWF (formerly the World Wide Fund for
Nature), said: "What we do to wildlife we ultimately do to ourselves.'' Yet
almost two years have passed since the WHO urged governments to investigate
the effects of gender-bending chemicals.

Guardian Newspapers Limited 2004 Copyright 2004, The Hindu