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Sunday, July 6, 2014

Intersex fish found in Pennsylvania rivers spur search for chemicals

Delaware River
Delaware River

Shocking finding about the association of chemical pollution and the sex of fish. Today's post is shared from

Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection has begun an extensive sampling of chemical contaminants in response to the discovery of intersex fish in three of the state's rivers, a department spokeswoman said.

Male fish carrying eggs were found in the Susquehanna, Delaware and Ohio river basins, a sign that the water may be tainted with chemicals, the U.S. Geological Survey found in research released Monday.

Amanda Witman, a DEP spokeswoman, said the agency is testing two tributaries of the Susquehanna River: Juniata River and Swatara Creek.

The USGS research said that two fish species, smallmouth bass and white sucker, were exhibiting intersex characteristics due to exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals — hormones and hormone-mimicking chemicals that caused the male fish to produce eggs.

"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 Vicki Blazer, a fish biologist and lead author of the USGS study.

Intersex fish found in 3 Pennsylvania river basins
Intersex fish found in 3 Pennsylvania river basins

Estrogenic chemicals disrupt the endocrine system, which regulates the release of hormones such as estrogen and testosterone. This interferes with the fish's ability to reproduce.

Some of the compounds and contaminants found were new, and researchers had to develop new laboratory test procedures...
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