[Pharmwaste] "Intersex" male bass found throughout protected Northeast US waters

Tenace, Laurie Laurie.Tenace at dep.state.fl.us
Fri Dec 18 09:57:29 EST 2015

Hi Al,

I can think of one study: the one in a research lake in Canada several years ago where they introduced low levels of estrogen and the population crashed. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2007/05/070521-sex-fish.html

"Kidd and colleagues from Canada's federal fisheries agency added the synthetic estrogen found in birth control pills to a remote, isolated lake set aside for such experiments in northwestern Ontario, Canada<http://www3.nationalgeographic.com/places/provinces/province_ontario.html>.
For three summers the researchers added estrogen at levels found in untreated municipal wastewaters.
Several fish species live in the lake, including the short-lived fathead minnow.
After the first summer, male minnows were producing egg proteins. By the second year their sperm cells were undeveloped. Shortly after that they produced eggs as well.
In addition, females were producing more egg protein than normal, and their sexual development was also delayed, Kidd said.

The result was an impaired ability of the minnows to reproduce, which caused the population to collapse in the second year of the study, the researchers found.
The population even failed to recover in the two years after the researchers stopped adding estrogen, indicating the effects were quite persistent, according to Kidd."

(More at the link)


From: Gilliam, Allen [mailto:GILLIAM at adeq.state.ar.us]
Sent: Friday, December 18, 2015 9:51 AM
To: Tenace, Laurie <Laurie.Tenace at dep.state.fl.us>; 'pharmwaste at lists.dep.state.fl.us' <pharmwaste at lists.dep.state.fl.us>
Subject: RE: [Pharmwaste] "Intersex" male bass found throughout protected Northeast US waters

Thanks Laurie, interesting story once again.

(c'mon Laurie!!  Almost 80°F on Christmas day and 82 the next?)

Does anyone "out there" know if there's been any studies conducted demonstrating a decrease in affected fishes' population?  Seems we've beat the intersexing story into acceptation so the next step would be to present the potential outcome showing downward population trends = future extinction?  That type of report should raise some political hackles and hopefully some serious legislation...

Look how long it took for global warming to be (almost 100%) accepted and some worldwide actions promised.  Don't think our aquatic life have the luxury of that time.

Wishing all a Merry Christmas and, of course, a prosperous New Year!


Allen Gilliam
ADEQ State Pretreatment Coordinator

From: pharmwaste-bounces at lists.dep.state.fl.us<mailto:pharmwaste-bounces at lists.dep.state.fl.us> [mailto:pharmwaste-bounces at lists.dep.state.fl.us] On Behalf Of Tenace, Laurie
Sent: Friday, December 18, 2015 8:18 AM
To: 'pharmwaste at lists.dep.state.fl.us'
Subject: [Pharmwaste] "Intersex" male bass found throughout protected Northeast US waters


Eighty-five percent of male smallmouth bass tested in or nearby 19 National Wildlife Refuges in the U.S. Northeast had signs of female reproductive parts, according to a new federal study<http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0147651315301093>.
The study, led by the U.S. Geological Survey and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, also reported that 27 percent of male largemouth bass in the testing sites were intersex.
The study is the first of its kind in National Wildlife Refuges and adds to growing evidence that endocrine disrupting chemicals are getting into U.S. lakes, rivers, streams and reservoirs-no matter how protected the waters seem. And such contamination seems to affect the reproductive development of some fish species, which can lead to threatened populations.
For the bass in this study, those considered "intersex" either had a protein that is used to make egg yolk typically found in females, or immature egg cells in their testes, said co author Fred Pinkney, a biologist with the U.S. Fisheries and Wildlife.
"The eggs were in the very, very early stages," he added.
But any change to fish reproductive systems could possibly threaten overall fish populations and ability to properly reproduce.
During the fall seasons of 2008 to 2010, the researchers tested a total of 118 male smallmouth bass from 12 locations and 85 percent were intersex. They tested an additional 173 male largemouth bass from 27 sampling sites and 27 percent were intersex.
It's not entirely clear why the bass were intersex as the researchers did not test the waters for specific chemicals, said lead author Luke Iwanowicz, a research biologist with the U.S. Geological Survey.
However, the suspected culprits of the sex changes are endocrine disrupting compounds.
This includes hormones, industrial chemicals and pesticides that are or mimic estrogen hormones. These compounds enter rivers and streams via permitted effluents, stormwater and agricultural runoff, and wastewater treatment plants, where excreted birth control and natural estrogens pass through relatively un-altered.
The study is just the latest to find intersex fish in U.S. waterways and builds on a U.S. Geological Survey study in 2009<http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19717194> that showed intersex male fish in nine U.S. river basins, though that study didn't include Northeast basins. The bass tested in the Northeast waterways had a higher prevalence of intersex than the fish in the 2009 study.
It seems that certain fish species may be more sensitive to estrogenic compounds than others, as evidenced by the disparity between largemouth and smallmouth bass in this study. Previous studies also have reported that smallmouth bass seem more susceptible to intersex changes.
However it's not clear if this is actual physical sensitivity to the chemicals or if it's due to some species spending more time in more contaminated habitats.
National Wildlife Refuges are areas protected by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. There are more than 560 such refuges nationally.
The national refuges tested spanned from eastern Ohio up to Maine and included: the Patuxent Research, Susquehanna, Montezuma, Great Swamp, Wallkill River, Great Meadows, Assabet River, Rappahannock River Valley, Mason Neck, Back Bay, John Heinz, Erie, Cherry Valley, Great Bay, Lake Umbagog, Sunkhaze Meadows, Missisquoi, Moosehorn and Ohio River Islands refuges.
Pinkney said the bass indicate that many aquatic species in Northeast U.S. refuges may be exposed to estrogenic chemicals.
"The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service encourages management actions that reduce runoff into streams, ponds and lakes-both on and off of refuge lands," he said.

Laurie Tenace
Environmental Specialist
Waste Reduction Section
Florida Department of Environmental Protection
2600 Blair Stone Road, MS4555
Tallahassee, FL  32399
Laurie.Tenace at dep.state.fl.us<mailto:Laurie.Tenace at dep.state.fl.us>

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