by Celeste McGovern
National Catholic Register
WASHINGTON — A recent report from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) found that birth-control hormones excreted by women, flushed into waterways and eventually into drinking water can also impact fish fertility up to three generations after exposure — raising questions about their effects on humans, who are consuming the drugs without even knowing it in each glass of water they drink.
The survey, published in March in the journal Scientific Reports, looked at the impact of the synthetic hormone 17α-ethinylestradiol (EE2), an ingredient of most contraceptive pills, in the water of Japanese medaka fish during the first week of their development.
While the exposed fish and their immediate offspring appeared unaffected, the second generation of fish struggled to fertilize eggs — with a 30% reduction in fertilization rates — and their embryos were less likely to survive. Even the third generation of fish had 20% impaired fertility and survival rates, though they were never directly exposed to the hormone.
“This study shows that even though endocrine disruptors may not affect the life of the exposed fish, it may negatively affect future generations,” said lead author of the study Ramji Bhandari, a USGS visiting scientist and University of Missouri assistant research professor. “If similar trends were observed in subsequent generations, a severe decline in overall population numbers might be expected by the F4 generation.”
Conducted by scientists at the USGS and the University of Missouri, the research also examined the effect of bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical found in plastics that has been implicated in breast cancer, which was similar to the contraceptive hormone.
The study adds to a growing body of evidence that man-made endocrine-disrupting chemicals — those that affect hormone systems and numerous body functions, including conception — are damaging wildlife, wreaking havoc on reproductive, immunological and nervous systems.
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