Hormone-upsetting chemicals dumped into the environment are rising up to haunt Americans, spreading cancer and infertility around the world.
With the endocrine disrupting Bisphenol-A (BPA) – found ubiquitously in food can linings, plastic bottles, ATM receipts, toilet paper and hundreds of other products – already a major problem tied to infertility, breast cancer, low sperm counts, deformities in humans and sex morphology in aquatic wildlife, yet still unregulated by the FDA, other hormonal disrupters dumped into water supplies are emerging as major issues, too.
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Now, environmentalists are concerned that hormones dumped into water – from sources like factory farm cattle operations – are at higher levels than previously thought, in part because they mysteriously regenerate at night, thwarting attempts to measure them and assumptions about them breaking down in sunlight.
Hormone-disrupting chemicals may be far more prevalent in lakes and rivers than previously thought. Environmental scientists have discovered that although these compounds are often broken down by sunlight, they can regenerate at night, returning to life like zombies.
“Risk assessments have been built on the basis that light exposure is enough to break down these products,” adds Laura Vandenberg, an endocrinologist at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst who was not involved in the study. “This work undermines that idea completely.”
The Nature.com article focused on a study conducted by the University of Iowa on the use of the synthetic anabolic steroid trenbolone acetate, which frequently runs off into water supplies after its use in some 20 million cattle through the United States (its use, like BPA, is banned in the EU) converts it into the “potent endocrine disrupter” 17α-trenbolone.
The going assumption from both industrialists and environmental regulators was that it was breaking down during the day as it was exposed to sunlight, rendering its effects on aquatic life, and human and animal use of the water, negligible.
However, the scientists found that 17α-trenbolone “levels rebounded during the dark periods,” with variations in temperature and pH often accelerating that process. Since environmental monitors were primarily taking samples during the day, they were not recording data showing the “zombie” culturing of these – and potentially many other – endocrine disruptors.
Endocrine-Disrupting Herbicide Linked with Cancer & Birth Defects in 52 Million Americans Drinking Water
Meanwhile, more than 250 groups have banded together to demand that the EPA step up to the plate to ban Atrazine, a toxic pesticide used primarily as a leading herbicide, that leaches into the environment and runs off into water supplies across the United States. It, too, has been linked with endocrine and hormonal disruption, and likely has widespread environmental effects.
Like BPA and trenbolone acetate, Atrazine – sold by the biotech giant Syngenta – is already banned in European countries, but remains virtually unregulated in America.
According to EcoWatch:
Up to 80 million pounds of it are used in the U.S. each year, contaminating ground, surface and drinking water. Atrazine, or its primary degradate, was found in approximately 75 percent of stream water and about 40 percent of all groundwater samples from agricultural areas tested in an extensive U.S. Geological Survey study
In people, atrazine exposure may be linked to increased risks of thyroid cancer, reproductive harm and birth defects. For example, a recent study showed that children of mothers exposed to atrazine had an increased risk of a birth defect called choanal atresia, a narrowing or blockage of the back of the nasal canal that can be life-threatening in newborn infants.
The hormone disrupting pesticide has been found in the drinking water of at least 52 million Americans. I reported on a little noticed item in the Wall Street Journal in 2012, quietly announcing that the biotech firm Syngenta had settled a class action lawsuit with more than 2,000 water districts in the American Mid-west over the contamination of its drinking water supplies.
The terms of the settlement were not fully disclosed, and Syngenta admitted no liability, maintaining that Atrazine is “safe,” and stating that, “No one ever has or ever could be exposed to enough atrazine in water to affect their health.”