Tuesday, January 30, 2007


Here is a story that falls into the category of ‘Man’s inhumanity to Man’ check it out

Chemicals known to change the sexual characteristics of fish and other animals have been found in West Virginia tributaries of the Potomac River, which runs through Washington, D.C. and surrounding areas, the U.S. Geological Survey has announced. It seems that Male fish that are growing eggs have been found in the Potomac River near Sharpsburg, a sign that a little-understood type of pollution is spreading downstream from West Virginia.

An investigation into fish that had both male and female characteristics turned up a range of chemicals including pesticides, flame retardants, and personal-care products, the USGS said. The Potomac is fed by rivers and streams in Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia. So this issue affects a large area of people.

Nine male smallmouth bass taken from the Potomac near Sharpsburg, about 60 miles upstream from Washington, were found to have developed eggs inside their sex organs, said Vicki S. Blazer, a scientist overseeing the research for the U.S. Geological Survey.

Authorities say the problems are likely related to a class of pollutants called endocrine disruptors, which short-circuit animals' natural systems of hormone chemical messages.

Officials are awaiting the results of water-quality testing that might point to a specific chemical behind the fish problems, Blazer said.

"It certainly indicates something's going on,'' Blazer said of the new findings in Maryland. "But what, we don't know.''

The Potomac River is the main source of drinking water for the Washington metropolitan area and many upstream communities. It provides about 75 percent of the water supply to the 3.6 million residents of Washington and its Maryland and Virginia suburbs.

Blazer, who works at a federal fish lab in Leetown, W.Va., said she found the latest abnormalities last week while examining tissues from fish taken from the river near Sharpsburg.

The same symptoms had previously been found about 170 miles upstream, in the South Branch of the Potomac in Hardy County, W.Va. Blazer and other scientists discovered the problem there last year while investigating a rash of mass fish deaths.

"We also analyzed samples of 30 smallmouth bass from six sites, including male and female fish without intersex and male fish with intersex," said Douglas Chambers, a USGS scientist who led the study.

"All samples contained detectable levels of at least one known endocrine-disrupting compound, including samples from fish without intersex."

Endocrine disrupters affect the animals' hormone systems. They can cause birth defects and sexual abnormalities called intersex in species ranging from frogs to alligators and perhaps humans as well.

"Antibiotics were detected in municipal wastewater, aquaculture, and poultry-processing effluent, with the highest number of antibiotics and the greatest concentrations found in municipal effluent," the USGS wrote in the report, published at http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2006/1393/.

The USGS said the sexual changes in the fish were discovered by accident in 2003, when scientists were investigating massive fish kills.

Many scientists are concerned that people, as well as other animals, might be affected. "It's not good news that there's something that feminizes male fish in your water,'' said Gina Solomon, a senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

But the Environmental Protection Agency has not set standards for many of these pollutants. Because of this, many drinking-water plants make no special efforts to remove them.

"Many potential sources of contaminants discharge to the South Branch of the Potomac and Cacapon Rivers. Chief among these are runoff from agricultural activities, municipal and domestic wastewater effluent (both treated and untreated), industrial wastewater, and gypsy moth control programs using dimilin (diflubenzuron)," the report reads.

So there you go, just another example of the weird and terrible things we do to ourselves and our children! See ya next time.

I’m Average Joe

email: OurWeirdWorld@gmail.com

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