Hermaphrodite fish provoke concern about pollution

September 7, 2006

D.C.’s drinking water okay, city officials say

For those of you who enjoy water from the tap, you may want to consider switching to Dasani.

The United States Geological Survey announced that a large number of intersex fish have been found in the Potomac River. The upstream parts of the river provide water to Washington and parts of Virginia.

photo by Michael Keller

80 percent of the tested male sea bass were producing immature eggs, according to the survey. Some scientists are concerned that these biological irregularities are due to the contamination of the river by chemicals called endocrine disruptors.

Intersex fish were first discovered in 2003 in the Chesapeake Bay, which is fed by the Potomac. The gender benders have also been found in the water off the San Diego coast.

Despite concerns about a possible threat to the District’s drinking water, Thomas Jacobus, general manager of the Washington Aqueduct, insisted that the city’s tap water is completely safe for human consumption.

“Our water meets all regulatory standards,” Jacobus said. “There is no indication that people should not drink the water.”

Jacobus acknowledged, however, that these chemicals could possibly be harmful if their levels rise. He blamed the presence of the endocrine disruptors on medications that reach the sewer system through careless disposal.

He said that there is a lack of guidelines for these chemicals, since the Environmental Protection Agency has not created regulations for the chemicals despite having extensively researched the issue since 1996.

Dale Kemery, media contact for the EPA’s Office of Water, said that the Agency is waiting for more scientific investigations before declaring a position.

“Essentially, this is fairly deep science on a molecular level,” Kemery said. “It takes a long time to find the facts and the effects on humans.”

Some believe that the mere existence of these hormonally altered fish signifies a problem. Glen O’Gilvie, President of the Earth Conservation Corps, an environmental advocacy group based in Southeast D.C., lamented this finding as a sign of the damage that people have done to the area ecosystem.

He also said that he worried the pollution of the Potomac River will spill into the Anacostia River, which his organization closely monitors.

The state of the Anacostia River has also been the subject of concern, since neighborhoods near the river have suffered high rates of chronic disease.

“This will have negative effects on us as people as we fish these rivers and eat these fish,” O’Gilvie said.

In addition to the possible physical aspects, O’Gilvie is concerned about the psychological effect that these modified fish will have on Washington citizens.

“Folks feel discomfort living by a polluted river,” O’Gilvie said. “There will be a mental effect. It’s bad for the area.”

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Comments 8

  • It is of serious concern to all the Environmental Scientists. If Pollution starts causing Intersexes the whole process of Evolution will be affected.

  • Given that the International Agency for Research for Cancer (see IARC Press release 167 July 2005, ), has stated that the contraceptive pill & HRT combined oestrogen & progesterone , have been reclassified on 29 th July 2005, as carcinogenic to humans & at same group one level as asbestos & tobacco, & these contaminants are absorbed into a women’s body at approx 5 % but approx 95 % going out into the effluent into our waterways & are not being removed at present , as is too costly , this is of vital importance as potentially can affect everyone as most of the major cities of the world are drinking recycled reclaimed water nowadays & so can cause cancers to the human community from drinking the contaminated water & eating the contaminated fish , as well as reducing fish populations or even extinguishing them as chemical endocrine disruptor. Time to ban the man made female hormone – the contraceptive birth control pill & hormone replacement therapy as too dangerous & carcinogenic & only use natural alternatives like Natural Family Planning eg Billings ,symptothermal method , saliva ovulation testers, & natural herbal menopause relief such as promensil , menoeze. Please see Nature journal 24 May, 2012, vol 485, Nature 441, re European Commission announced its intention to regulate EE2 (ethinyl estradiol), man made oestrogen effluent , that goes into rivers estuaries & lakes, but also recycled reclaimed sewage drinking water in major cities of the world , in January this year , on 6 th November European Parliament legislative committee will vote on whether will be included in priority substance list for regulation then whether progress to first reading for legislation in European Parliament next January, 2013. People need to know as affects us all & the environment & is urgent. Sally O’Grady BAppScOT

  • See Article ‘The Hidden costs of Flexible Fertility – ‘Urgent Public Debate is needed over a European proposal to regulate environmental levels of the active ingredient in birth-control pills ‘say Richard Owen & Susan Jobling. Richard Owen is Chair in Responsible Innovation of Exeter Business School, Exeter UK, & Susan Jobling is Chair in Environmental Toxicology & head of the Institute for the Environment at Brunel University , Uxbridge, Middlesex, UK . The Pharmaceutical companies should pay for risk management as they the polluter . However I believe we should aim to stop altogether the carcinogenic etc effects of man made female hormone EE2 etc pollution not just reduce the level so reduces risk to fish as the cumulative effect still there for humans if present at any level in the water as have recycled reclaimed water as endocrine disruptor unnatural with unnatural consequences. Natural alternatives that do not hurt humans or the environment eg fish etc, is the achievable ideal goal eg use Billings natural family planning, sympto- thermal method , saliva ovulation tester , & natural menopause solutions such as menoeze , Remifemin, promensil. Agree not acceptable that decisions negotiated between the regulator the government & the water board & the polluter the pharmaceutical companies alone. Decisions should involve the public who are affected by potentially contaminated carcingenic recycled reclaimed water & contaminated fish, a moral & scientific responsibility to disclose & implement safe natural alternatives to totally eliminate these risks .

  • Please get this message out as vital as this regulation of EE2 man made female hormone formulations from the Contraceptive pill ,& hormone replacement therapy too , re what is acceptable level that doesnt affect the future fish populations can still potentially affect humans also , through cumulative effect of ingestion of recycled reclaimed drinking water etc so zero level best. This global precedent for regulating the levels of this man made female hormone EE2 etc in the water needs to not just be low but should for complete safety be zero level of carcinogens or endocrine disruptors especially as affects can take time to show. Pharmaceutical products that are carcinogenic to humans directly through taking the pills etc & indirectly through water contamination through effluent & lack of removal or insufficient removal of these products from the drinking water & that then affects our wildlife , fisheries, marine life etc must be banned as the human cost in lives lost by related cancers etc , & loss of fish populations & species etc is too high a cost to ignore , & requires immediate action & use of natural alternatives with no dangerous side effects. This means that there will greater accountability by the pharmaceutical industry to not harm humans or the environment , so strict global regulations to ensure compliance & safety of all.

  • I agree, totally, with Sally O’Grady’s comments of the 15 October 2012.

    We are already in trouble over these artificial “hormones,” these awful chemicals; and unless the whole world – all people -are advised about these artificial estrogens and progestogens (which should have been banned decades ago,)and remedial measures taken, we are all going to suffer horrendous consequences.