With all this talk about shockwaves, I wish to nominate one that has the worst combination of factors, making it deserving of more study than getting today.
- grossly understudied
- decent probability of occurance
- high impacts
For a introduction to this subject see the Wikipedia page on Xenoestrogens. Note the references to many articles and books on the subject. This is not “better living through chemistry.”
For a detailed analysis see “Widespread feminisation of male wildlife raises the alarm”, Gwynne Lyons, CHEM Trust, 7 December 2008 — About the effect of hormone-disrupting or so-called ‘gender-bending’ chemicals in the environment, and the implications for human health.
From the press release
In mammals, genital disruption in males has been widely reported, including: intersex features (such as egg tissue in the testes of the male); small phallus; small testes; undescended testes; abnormal testes; or ambiguous genitals.
In the UK, effects on otters and seals are generating concern. A UK study of road-kill otters published last year noted that otters with higher levels of organochlorine contaminants had shorter baculums (penis bones), (1) and this year more otters than ever previously reported have been found with un-descended testes. (2) Furthermore seal populations have not increased again since they were decimated by the outbreak of phocine distemper virus in 2002. The reduced number of seals in the North Sea off eastern England is puzzling scientists, who are now planning to examine their reproductive health. (3)
Species across the globe have been damaged, including polar bears in the Arctic and eland antelopes in Africa. (4)
The males of egg-laying species including fish, amphibians, birds, and reptiles have also been feminised by exposure to sex hormone disrupting chemicals and have been found to be abnormally making egg yolk protein, normally made by females. Affected species are widespread, and include, flounder in UK estuaries, cod in the North Sea, cane toads in Florida, peregrine falcons in Spain, and turtles from the Great Lakes in North America.
Gwynne Lyons, author of the report and director of CHEM Trust commented:
Urgent action is needed to control gender bending chemicals, and more resources are needed for monitoring wildlife. Man-made chemicals are clearly damaging the basic male tool-kit. If wildlife populations crash, it will be too late. Unless enough males contribute to the next generation, there is a real threat to animal populations in the long term.
It has now been shown, beyond doubt, that several ‘gender benders’ can act together as a mixture or cocktail to cause effects even when individually each chemical is below the concentration at which it would cause harm on its own. EU regulators must ensure legislation takes this real-world ‘mixture effect’ into account or reproduction will be put in jeopardy. Sadly, during negotiations of the forthcoming EU pesticides Regulation, the UK Government was one of just 3 Member States (5) not to back the proposed tough controls to cut-off the use of hormone disrupting pesticides.
About CHEM Trust
CHEM = Chemicals, Health and Environment Monitoring. CHEM Trust’s aim is to protect humans and wildlife from harmful chemicals. Based in the UK, it was set up in 2007 to take over the mantle of work on toxic chemicals of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF-UK) (see WWF’s Wikipedia entry for more information).
Links to two of the many articles on this subject
An excellent introduction to the debate: “Fooling with Nature“, Public Broadcasting System, no date given (probably circa 1999) — Esp note the timeline of Endocrine Disruption and Man-Made Chemicals — this is not a new issue.
“Hormonally Active Agents in the Environment“, by the National Research Council of the National Academy of Science, 1999 (430 pages) — The PDF of the summary is free; or you can view chapters online. Here is the opening of the Executive Summary, which gives the conclusions of the Committee. They recommend more study.
Concern has been raised in recent years regarding potential adverse effects of various environmental contaminants often called “endocrine disruptors” and referred to in this report as “hormonally active agents” C(HAAs). In part, this concern originated from the finding that some synthetic chemicals in the environment that are associated with adverse reproductive and developmental effects in wildlife mimic the actions of the female sex hormone estradiol. In addition, the effects of in utero exposure to the potent synthetic estrogen diethylstilbestrol (DES) in the offspring of treated women and the replication of these effects in mice have focused attention on embryonic development as a target for the potential disruptive effects of environmental agents with hormonal activity.
Although it is clear that exposures to HAAs at high concentrations can affect wildlife and human health, the extent of harm caused by exposure to these compounds in concentrations that are common in the environment is debated.
If you are new to this site, please glance at the archives below. You may find answers to your questions in these.
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For more information from the FM site
To read other articles about these things, see the FM reference page on the right side menu bar. Of esp relevance to this topic:
- Posts about Science, Nature, and Geopolitics– articles about shockwaves from climate change and solar cycles.
- One of the most likely “shockwave events: Peak Oil and Energy – my articles and Peak oil and energy – studies and reports.
Posts on the FM site about shockwaves:
- The most dangerous form of Peak Oil, 8 April 2008
- The “Oil Shockwave” project: well-funded analysis of the obvious, 10 April 2008
- Peak Oil Doomsters debunked, end of civilization called off, 8 May 2008
- Spreading the news: the end is nigh!, 8 May 2008
- What does $120 oil mean for the global economy?, 15 May 2008
- There is no “peak water” crisis, 19 June 2008
- A reply to comments on FM site about Global Warming, 17 November 2008
- We are so vulnerable to so many things. What is the best response?, 30 December 2008
- Comment: warnings about a reversal of Earth’s magnetic field, 30 December 2008
- About our certain doom from the Yellowstone supervolcano, 11 January 2009