Pharmaceuticals

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Although present in waste-water and Canadian rivers at levels of parts-per-billion or parts-per-trillion, the potential effects of even very tiny amounts on non-target species, such as fish, are raising concerns.


Pharmaceuticals
 are polluting our lakes and rivers. Although present in waste-water and Canadian rivers at levels of parts-per-billion or parts-per-trillion, the potential effects of even very tiny amounts on non-target species, such as fish, are raising concerns. A few of these pharmaceutical drugs are endocrine disruptors – compounds that can affect reproduction and development. One example is the synthetic estrogen found in birth control pills and excreted in the urine of women taking the pill.

While it is neither feasible nor desirable to force the public to stop using pharmaceutical drugs – it is important to investigate compounds that cause the greatest concern and assess methods to remove or reduce the amount of these entering the environment. Dr. Joanne Parrott at the Canada Centre for Inland Waters in Burlington, Ontario, has spent the past several years conducting a variety of investigations, including fish life-cycle studies, into effects of pharmaceuticals on fish health. Her research has shown that when fathead minnows are grown from egg to adulthood in the presence of as little as three parts-per-trillion of synthetic estrogen, the genetically male fish express only female characteristics; thus no males are available to mate and to fertilize eggs.

Fat head minnows: male exposed to estrogen in the lab loses typical male characteristics expressed by normal or control male fish.
Read more at https://www.ec.gc.ca/scitech/default.asp?lang=En&n=64B32D19-1

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