a toxic hormone seems to be changing the sex of fish in u s rivers

A Toxic Hormone is Altering the Sex and Reproduction of Aquatic Life in United States Streams

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The Hormone is Used in the Raising of Cattle but Finds its Way to Rivers and Streams

We all know that many of our rivers and streams here in the U.S. are or have been majorly polluted in the last several decades, essentially since the industrial revolution. But things are getting better...right? Right...? Hmm maybe not as much as we'd like to think. It appears that the hormones used in the beef and dairy industry are finding their way into our streams and wetlands and wreaking havoc on the fragile aquatic life living there.

This hormone is used by the farmers to artificially cause the cows to gain more weight...and quickly. Unfortunately, the presence of this hormone in aquatic ecosystems is interfering with the reproduction of fish. This horrific revelation was published in the journal, Nature Communications.

What's even scarier is that for decades our cattle farmers have used this hormone. It's name, you ask? Trenbolone acetate, or TBA. Ever hear of it before? We haven't either. But what we're learning is that this is the culprit for the sex changes taking place in our fish. This is because TBA has a toxic byproduct when the chemical is broken down called 17-alpha-trenbolone.

Researchers initially thought that this hormone couldn't be the culprit because, in their studies, the hormone was broken down into innocuous byproducts after exposure to UV rays, or sunlight.

Things change when night comes, however, where, in streams and rivers, these innocuous byproducts will come together again to form 17-alpha-trenbolone, the toxic chemical.

Lead study author, Adam Ward, says that when the mixture "goes away" in the sunlight, this is misleading because in terms of chemistry, it's not really true. The risk has not actually gone away.

How much damage occurs as a result of this hormone is unknown.

17-alpha-trenbolone enters our environment when the cows produce manure. When it rains, this manure is diluted and particles are swept into nearby streams, rivers, ponds and groundwater. Once in the water, where aquatic life lives, it can affect their hormones and act as an endocrine disruptor. We definitely know it affects fish for sure, but what about all the other life in the stream? What a disaster!

17-alpha-trenbolone is similar to testosterone but it is many times more potent. It is so potent that it is apparently changing the sex of the fish and slowing down the reproductive rates of multiple species of fish.

Ward says that the aquatic life, including fish, minnows, insects, and amphibians are all "being bathed in this sort of low dose testosterone." With the health of so much aquatic life being affected, including reproduction rates, this can cause a whole host of problems for these ecosystems, including streams and the precious, fragile wetlands.

Ward believes that the conclusions of the study will force the regulators to dramatically change the methods that these regulators use to determine risk management strategies for their waterways.

Typically, waterway regulators just look at how one type of substance will after an aquatic system, but if they want to consider 17-alpha-trenbolone and the other compounds that are similar to it, this means they will need to look at mixtures as well.

According to studies from the U.S. Geological Survey, there are other toxins being released into our environment that are considered endocrine disruptors, such as fungicides and insecticides.

Ward concludes that our knowledge of aquatic system risk management is deficient. Literally "tens of thousands" of chemical compounds are being synthesized and utilized in factories and businesses around the world every year. It will take a long time, if it can ever be done, but us to know exactly what happens when these chemicals are released into streams, lakes and/or wetlands especially when the ecosystem is considered complex.

Reference

12 Chemicals That Are Screwing Up Your Hormones

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