Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

How Flushing the Toilet Can Cause Genetic Defects in Wildlife

12.12.2008
Scientists at the University of Idaho recently discovered that 17á-ethynylestradiol – an active chemical in birth control pills commonly released into the environment through human urine – causes cells in rainbow trout to have an abnormal number of chromosomes. This condition may be why many embryos fathered by exposed specimens die within three weeks.

A few years ago, scientists at the University of Idaho discovered birth control pills not only control the human population, but also can devastate rainbow trout populations. Now they may know why.

James Nagler, professor of biological sciences, recently discovered that 17á-ethynylestradiol – an active chemical in birth control pills – causes cells in rainbow trout to have an abnormal number of chromosomes. This condition, known as aneuploidy, is often found in cancer cells, causes Down’s syndrome in humans, and may be why many embryos fathered by exposed specimens die within three weeks.

The results, coauthored with Kim Brown and Joe Cloud from the University of Idaho, and Irvin Schultz of Battelle Pacific Northwest National Laboratory – Marine Science Laboratory were published in this week’s edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“The bottom line is that aneuploidy is abnormal and highly undesirable,” said Nagler. “I believe this compound is causing elevated levels of sperm aneuploidy, which in turn is greatly reducing the embryonic survival rate in the fish it affects.”

Nagler exposed male rainbow trout to the chemical and tested their sperm for abnormal chromosome levels. He then fertilized eggs from unexposed females with the affected semen and compared the resulting offspring’s survival rate with a control group that was not exposed to the synthetic estrogen.

The results showed that while offspring sired by healthy male and female fish enjoyed a three-week survival rate of more than 95 percent, only 40 to 60 percent of the young trout from the affected semen survived. Additionally, the abnormal chromosomal levels were passed on to some of the offspring.

The chemical 17á-ethynylestradiol is a synthetic estrogen commonly used in human birth control pills and is released into the environment through urination. The compound is difficult to remove in waste treatment plants, and very few plants are capable of removing the chemical before releasing the water back into the environment.

“The concentrations we tested are not found everywhere,” said Nagler. “But there are definitely many places in the world containing levels close to – if not exceeding – the concentration that we tested.”

There are other synthetic estrogens released into the environment every day besides 17á-ethynylestradiol. Similar chemicals are found everywhere from detergents to pesticides and cause many more problems than chromosome abnormalities. For example, the pesticide DDT – a weak estrogen – caused the egg shells of bald eagles to be thin and weak, contributing to their declining numbers during the mid-1900s.

Nagler’s research results raise many questions on the levels of synthetic estrogens in surface water across the country and how they might be affecting all animals using the water, including humans.

“Nobody can say that these compounds are the main cause of salmon decline because it’s a very complex issue and there are many, many factors involved,” said Nagler. “But it can’t help.”

Image is available at www.today.uidaho.edu/PhotoList.aspx

Ken Kingery | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.uidaho.edu

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Reducing household waste with less energy
18.01.2017 | FIZ Karlsruhe – Leibniz-Institut für Informationsinfrastruktur GmbH

nachricht Joint research project on wastewater for reuse examines pond system in Namibia
19.12.2016 | Technische Universität Darmstadt

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

Im Focus: How to inflate a hardened concrete shell with a weight of 80 t

At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).

Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

Nothing will happen without batteries making it happen!

05.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A big nano boost for solar cells

18.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Glass's off-kilter harmonies

18.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Toward a 'smart' patch that automatically delivers insulin when needed

18.01.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>