Saturday, December 18, 2010

In the News Today

Two water-related stories for you today:

Researchers have found that estrogen levels in drinking water can be traced back mainly to industrial agriculture rather than oral contraceptives. The pill has been blamed for the feminization of fish and other aquatic animals, suggesting human health may be affected in ways we don't yet know. What this study points out - and I can't believe I didn't realize this earlier - is that livestock produce 13 times more solid waste than humans and consume great amounts of synthetic hormones in factory farm operations, providing a source of estrogen far greater than what humans alone can contribute. Additionally, agricultural pesticide runoff can mimic estrogen! Thankfully, water treatment plants can remove most of it, but wild animals continue to drink from or swim in the water we have polluted for them.

Read the full article here.

Meanwhile, the Globe and Mail has written about abnormalities found on fish in rivers near the Alberta tar sands. I'm not surprised that these poor creatures have deformities, lesions, and tumours if that's the kind of habitat they live in, but it's a little shocking that the people in charge of monitoring this issue (the Regional Aquatics Monitoring Program, RAMP) are led primarily by petroleum industry representatives. No wonder some scientists have criticized RAMP for being "secretive". In past annual reports, some species have been excluded from the statistics, and averages have been cited while the raw numbers remain private. You don't have to be a scientist to know that this type of monitoring is not credible.

Read the full article here.

Photo credits: oral contraceptive pills and tar sands.

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