It’s time to learn from frogs

frogsThis story in the New York Times speaks issues we’ve talked about on this blog before:

Some of the first eerie signs of a potential health catastrophe came as bizarre deformities in water animals, often in their sexual organs.

Frogs, salamanders and other amphibians began to sprout extra legs. In heavily polluted Lake Apopka, one of the largest lakes in Florida, male alligators developed stunted genitals.

In the Potomac watershed near Washington, male smallmouth bass have rapidly transformed into “intersex fish” that display female characteristics. This was discovered only in 2003, but the latest survey found that more than 80 percent of the male smallmouth bass in the Potomac are producing eggs.

Now scientists are connecting the dots with evidence of increasing abnormalities among humans, particularly large increases in numbers of genital deformities among newborn boys. For example, up to 7 percent of boys are now born with undescended testicles, although this often self-corrects over time. And up to 1 percent of boys in the United States are now born with hypospadias, in which the urethra exits the penis improperly, such as at the base rather than the tip.

Apprehension is growing among many scientists that the cause of all this may be a class of chemicals called endocrine disruptors. They are very widely used in agriculture, industry and consumer products. Some also enter the water supply when estrogens in human urine — compounded when a woman is on the pill — pass through sewage systems and then through water treatment plants. (read the rest)

We talked about BPA plastics here. And it’s been a topic other times as well. Endocrine disruptors mess with our heads and emotional well-being as well. It’s important to try to avoid these things if at all possible.

One thought on “It’s time to learn from frogs

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  1. Thank you for this article, we really don’t know the extent these things can damage us, although looking at small changes in sensitive populations is a good place to start. Scientists often look at reptiles and amphibians, they are the most easily damaged.

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