Thursday, August 30, 2007

Estrogen Pollutes Colorado Waterways, Mutates Fish

In jest, I mentioned here a British study on the effects of estrogen contamination in the waterways of Englan The excess estrogen comes from some plastics, cosmetics, and detergents, but most especially from birth control pills and hormone replacement therapies which pass through humans into the sewage system. The most disturbing effect of excess estrogen in the water is the "frankenfish"--male fish with acquired hermaphroditic characteristics like egg production and a more feminine physical appearance.

When I heard this story, I cheerfully reflected on Colorado's location upstream from the rest of the country. Now the frankenfish phenomenon hits closer to home.

Boulder Weekly writer Wayne Laugesen tweaked Boulder Valley environmentalists with news of estrogen pollution in the effluent of Boulder. (Laughnesen also summed things up for the National Catholic Register) He knew well which choice residents would make if given the option of saving the environment or of maintaining their lifestyle.

He follows up with worrisome news of a new experiment by Boulder researcher David Norris:

In response to public denial over the results of his survey, Norris took extraordinary measures to prove his findings. This column is likely the first you've heard of them, because the mainstream media desire to ignore this subject.

Norris obtained funding from the Colorado Division of Fish and Wildlife and the EPA for a study under peer review today by scientists from the United States Geological Survey. The Norris team set up a lab next to the sewage plant in the summer of 2006. They removed all external variables and isolated fish, creek water obtained upstream from the treatment plant, and Boulder's estrogen-rich effluent. Then they altered life.

"With a ratio of water-to-effluent identical to what's immediately downstream from the plant, we were able to feminize the fish within seven days," Norris told me. "They all started producing female proteins. We shut down their production of sperm, and they all started acting like females."

One can't help but fear the effects such estrogenated water is having on humans. Norris notes: "emerging evidence suggests correlation between Ethinyl Estradiol pollution and increased abnormalities in the reproductive systems of newborns, increased prostate cancer and reduced human fertility." One even wonders if it is responsible for an increased incidence of homosexuality and male effeminacy.

If one subtle corruption of human sexuality indeed redounds upon the health of nature and the health of the human race, how much more fearsome will appear the order of the cosmos!

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