Friday, July 4, 2014

Fertility timebomb found in drinking water


The Daily Mail in a recent article reported on the pollution of our drinking water by oestrogen, which is causing grave environmental damage to fish stocks and could also be placing male fertility at risk.
According to the article the fertility of a generation of men is being put at risk because a hormone found in the Pill is getting into drinking water, scientists fear.
Pollution due to the chemical, a powerful form of oestrogen, is causing up to half the male fish in our lowland rivers to change sex, research shows.
Experts believe the hormone could be getting into drinking water and affecting men's sperm counts. They say sewage treatment does not remove the chemical entirely from drinking supplies, although the water industry insists there is no evidence of a risk to health.
A study to be published by the Environment Agency later this month says entire fish stocks in some stretches of water are irreversibly affected. Scientists believe the synthetic oestrogen can feminise-fish at levels as low as one part per billion.
Professor Charles Tyler, one of the leaders of the research, told BBC1's Countryfile: 'Some of the concentrations where we are seeing effects on fish are below the detection limit in place for testing our drinking water. So we cannot be sure that some of these compounds aren't getting into our drinking water.'
The study on roach stocks from ten rivers found nearly half of male fish had eggs in their testes or female reproductive ducts. A tenth were sterile and another quarter had damaged sperm.
Dr Susan Jobling, from the research team, said: 'There are very real reasons to be worried about whether male reproductive health could also be affected.'
The discovery that half the male fish in Britain's rivers are changing sex - and that the hormone responsible may be getting into drinking water - is just the latest example of how nature can give us nasty surprises.
For, despite our frequent boast that we have conquered the natural world, it has a habit of striking back in ways we least expect.