According to a recent research, freshwater fish exposed to estrogen produced limited offspring, the research revealed that water polluted with even slight quantities of human hormones can affect marine life.
Synthetic estrogen from oral contraceptives was discovered in waterways near sewage treatment plants.
Biologists were surveying to detect if those hormones affect fish so they exposed the fishes to small amounts of a synthetic version of Ethinylestradiol, used in most birth control pills.
They discovered less than a tenth of the concentration of Ethinylestradiol seen in some streams was sufficient to cause a smaller populations and limited male offsprings.
A study in the Aquatic Toxicology journal says that, fish exposed to just 5 nanograms per liter of synthetic Ethinylestradiol yielded fewer offspring than those that were not and reproduced more females than males.
Ethinylestradiol is also used as menopausal hormone therapy, to curb osteoporosis and as a pacifying treatment for breast cancer.
The human body naturally absorbs a little amount of the medication we consume, the rest – up to 90 percent – is flushed down the toilet when we use the bathroom.
‘Our wastewater treatment systems are good at removing a lot of things, but they weren’t designed to remove pharmaceuticals,’ said lead author Latonya Jackson, a biologist at the University of Cincinnati. ‘So when women on birth control or hormone therapy go to the bathroom, it gets flushed into wastewater treatment plants.’
Biologist Latonya Jackson used least killifish, a relative of the guppy which is a common target for predators, they make up for this by giving birth frequently, about every 28 days.
Least killifish yielded fewer offspring after being exposed to less than a tenth of the estrogen concentration discovered in some streams near sewage plants.
They are also unique for fish because they have a placenta and give birth to live young.
Subsequently she will be working with the Environmental Protection Agency to detect if the hormones influenced the genetics of the fish’s offspring.
A 2010 study discovered that birth-control pills were responsible for less than one percent of the estrogen seen in US drinking water, local water systems do not evaluate for Ethinylestradiol.
And estrogen infiltrates the waterways from other origins, like livestock and dairy products.
A 2015 study from Washington State University also a connection between Ethinylestradiol and the heightening deterioration in sperm counts, which have plummeted up to 38 percent in a decade.
‘There’s every reason to believe that estrogen and the pharmaceutical compounds that we’re ingesting in micro-quantities are having an effect,’ activist Seth Siegel told Business Insider.
‘Why wouldn’t it be possible that a newborn or fetus, or a 3-year-old getting an irregular dosage, might not see some effect on their brain function or brain development?’