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Gender-bending fish problem in Colorado creek mitigated by treatment plant upgrade
Date:6/21/2010

Springs in 2000. The researchers found feminized fish at all of the sites and as well as skewed sex ratios showing there were more females than males. Since that time biologists have been reporting feminized male fish and intersex fish in waterways across the globe.

"I look at the problem of fish feminization in waterways as a canary in a mine shaft," said Norris. "This is not the problem of water treatment plants, it's our problem as human beings. We excrete natural and synthetic estrogens and use shampoos, detergents and cosmetics containing a variety of hormone disrupters that wind up in waterways. All of these different chemicals we are putting into the environment have the potential to alter the biology of animals and to affect ecosystems."

It boils down to a growing human population problem, he said. Ways to mitigate effects of chemicals include using reduced amounts of detergents and shampoos. Another way people can lessen the problem is to avoid antibacterial soaps, which can disrupt thyroid function in fish.

"People have shown they can consciously mitigate some of these issues," said Norris. "One example is the refusal of some to buy milk from cattle that contain growth hormones."

He said the bulk of all pharmaceuticals people ingest generally wind up in urine and feces within 24 hours and are flushed or drained into treatment plants. In addition, chemicals from plastics and canned food can pass through humans and travel into waterways, affecting fish populations as well as the health of people. "Our bodies are being exposed every day to a variety of chemicals capable of altering our physiological development, including impacts on sensitive human fetuses."


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Contact: David Norris
David.Norris@colorado.edu
303-492-8379
University of Colorado at Boulder
Source:Eurekalert  

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