Can you imagine the level of pollution needed in order to change the sex of a fish? Scientists are looking into the matter now, after having found fish in Pennsylvania that are intersex. And we’re not talking about a lone case of a male fish that likes wearing female underwear.
Scientists have discovered widespread incidences of male smallmouth bass and white sucker fish with immature egg cells in their testes, as well as other female characteristics. The fish, that were found in three Pennsylvania rivers, may have had their bodies morphed due to chemically tainted water. That is what the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection is currently looking into.
Certain chemicals (estrogenic ones) are able to disrupt a fish’s hormonal balance. “The sources of estrogenic chemicals are most likely complex mixtures from both agricultural sources, such as animal wastes, pesticides and herbicides, and human sources from wastewater treatment plant effluent and other sewage discharges,” said a fish biologist working for the US Geological Survey, Vicki Blazer.
When asked about the mutated fish, Blazer said: “We weren’t expecting the issue to be as widespread as it was. The number of fish affected and the severity was surprising.”
Water and soil samples showed estrone to be the most common hormone found. Estrone is a potent endocrine-disrupting chemical. Sources for the estrone may be wastewater plants and the manure of animals such as pigs, cows, and chickens, researchers said.
Blazer recommends for wastewater plant technology to be upgraded, as well as fencing to be installed around rivers so animals can’t defecate directly into the water. Doing so could help alleviate Pennsylvania’s problem and prevent it from happening elsewhere.
What should citizens be doing to help? Click here to contact your local representative. Tell them that you demand for your local waters to be protected.
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