Lots of (manly) men out there may start taking a greater interest in the quality of their drinking water after reading that scientists and researchers have positively identified drinking water contaminants known to alter the gender of wildlife over time — and have also found them in some public water supplies.
Scientists are warning that manmade pollutants which have escaped into the environment mimic the female sex hormone oestrogen.
The males of species including fish, amphibians, birds, and reptiles have been feminised by exposure to sex hormone disrupting chemicals and have been found to be abnormally making egg yolk protein, normally made by females, according to the report by Chem Trust, environmental group.
The authors claim that the chemicals found in food packaging, cleaning products, plastics, sewage and paint cause genital deformities, reduce sperm count and “feminise” males.
Fish have been specifically affected by the gender changing chemicals. In one study, half the male fish in British lowland rivers had signs of being feminised – as chemicals which block the male hormone androgen had been released- leading to the development of eggs in their testes.
Although the report only looked at the impact of gender bending chemicals on the animal world, its authors say the findings have disturbing implications for human health.
Gywnne Lyons, a former Government advisor on chemical pollution and author of the report, said: “Urgent action is needed to control gender bending chemicals and more resources are needed for monitoring wildlife.
“If wildlife populations crash, it will be too late. Unless enough males contribute to the next generation there is a real threat to animal populations in the long term,” she added.
The paper lists the affected species and include, flounder in UK estuaries, cod in the North Sea, cane toads in Florida, peregrine falcons in Spain, and turtles from the Great Lakes in North America.
Some male roaches have changed sex completely after exposure to oestrogen from the Contraceptive pill pouring out of sewage works. (source)
The obvious question becomes, “Does no one test the quality of our drinking water for potentially and seriously harmful contaminants?”
Yes and no. The United States Environmental Protection Agency has two sets of established ‘standards’ by which it judges drinking water quality: Primary and Secondary Drinking Water Standards. The first regulates known threats to human health such as known toxic chemicals, deadly periodic table elements, various forms of bacteria, pathogenic viruses, etc. The second regulates contaminants know to ruin drinking water’s aesthetic properties such as taste, color and odor.
Why have the chemicals and chemical by-products that scientists and researchers now believe may result in the mutation of and subsequent femininisation of males not gotten added to either of those Drinking Water Standards? Probably because no one had definitive proof of their potentially damaging effects on humans until now.
“Currently, federal and state legislation mandates testing and treatment for a wide array of tap water contaminants. A vast majority of public and private water utilities provide drinking water that meets or exceeds U.S. EPA and state drinking water safety standards. Additional legislation is being considered.” (source)
The next logical question which comes to most people’s minds at this point centers around learning how to effectively remove potentially dangerous chemicals such as pharmaceuticals from their drinking water. On that topic, NSF International (National Sanitation Foundation) had this to say:
“While home water treatment systems are not specifically certified to reduce pharmaceuticals at this time, many of these products can help provide additional protection against a wide array of other contaminants, including arsenic, lead and cysts, sometimes found in drinking water.” (source)
More or less that means no one has stepped up and proposed a solid solution for getting the thousands of potentially harmful pharmaceutical and chemical waste and by-products out of our water supply. Kind of scary, right?
So for right now it seems as though the public’s best protection against drinking water contaminants comes in the form of arming itself with knowledge by testing its drinking water, or getting it tested, and applying that knowledge by installing the correct drinking water filtration system if needed.