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Jury Still Out on Endocrine Disruptors, Research Continues

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Research shows that endocrine disruptors affect aquatic life.
Environmental Protection Agency
Research shows that endocrine disruptors affect aquatic life.

Research shows that endocrine disruptors affect aquatic life.

"They affect the reproductive system," says Gerry Diamond, director of toxicology at TetraTech. "For example, make males into almost females and males into females, and that’s what you see in the Potomac. But there's been effects shown even on snails and clams, but it's usually pretty subtle."

Are they affecting humans? Nobody knows for sure. In drinking water they’re at astronomically low levels.

Tom Jacobus, head of the Washington Aqueduct, says they're looking at possible but costly filtration technologies if it turns out these compounds are an issue for people.

"That which does not come to the treatment plant doesn't need to be treated," says Jacobus.

Individuals can help mitigate the problem by not using pesticides and throwing old prescriptions in the trash, not the toilet. Cutting edge wastewater treatment plants appear to help, and the EPA is screening hundreds of chemicals to see if they are endocrine-disrupting.

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