[Pharmwaste] More 'Intersex Fish' found in the Potomac, and Hermaphrodite fish provoke concern about pollution

David Wasserburger wasser at marshfieldutilities.org
Thu Sep 7 16:08:48 EDT 2006

Please remove me from this list.  Thank you.
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "DeBiasi,Deborah" <dldebiasi at deq.virginia.gov>
To: <pharmwaste at lists.dep.state.fl.us>
Sent: Thursday, September 07, 2006 2:52 PM
Subject: [Pharmwaste] More 'Intersex Fish' found in the Potomac,and
Hermaphrodite fish provoke concern about pollution

> http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/09/06/AR200609
> 0600648.html
> More 'Intersex Fish' Found in Potomac
> The Associated Press
> Wednesday, September 6, 2006; 11:19 PM
> McLEAN, Va. -- Some species of male fish in the Potomac River and its
> tributaries are developing female sexual traits at a frequency higher
> than scientists have seen before, raising concerns about pollutants in a
> waterway that provides drinking water for millions of people.
> The so-called "intersex fish," which produce immature eggs in their
> testes, were discovered in the Potomac rivershed in 2003 and have also
> been found in other parts of the country.
> But the frequency that the U.S. Geological Surveys found last year is
> much higher than what has been found elsewhere, said fish pathologist
> Vicki Blazer.
> In some Potomac tributaries, nearly all of the male smallmouth bass
> caught in last year's survey were the abnormal fish. In the Potomac
> itself, seven of 13 largemouth bass exhibited female characteristics,
> including three that were producing eggs.
> Although the frequency discovered was surprisingly high, Blazer
> cautioned that the sample size was relatively small, with about 10 male
> and 10 female fish taken from each of eight locations in Maryland,
> Virginia and the District of Columbia.
> Researchers were reluctant to remove large numbers of bass from the
> rivers because of conservation concerns, she said.
> Female fish caught in the survey did not develop any unusual sex traits,
> though fish of both sexes exhibited lesions and other pollution-related
> problems, said Blazer, who coordinated the survey.
> Smallmouth bass appear to be more susceptible to intersex development
> than largemouth bass, Blazer said.
> Blazer said researchers are still waiting on data that would help them
> determine the water quality at the time the fish were caught, but
> preliminary data taken from the Potomac found a variety of chemical
> pollutants.
> It is not exactly clear what is causing the changes, though it is likely
> a combination of pollutants, scientists say.
> Certain chemicals and pesticides are believed to stimulate estrogen
> production. Also, estrogen from birth control pills and human waste can
> make its way from sewage treatment plants to the waterways.
> The Environmental Protection Agency has been studying the issue of
> so-called "endocrine disruptors" since 1996, but currently does not
> issue guidelines to water treatment plants for allowable levels of
> estrogenic compounds.
> Jeanne Bailey, a spokeswoman for Fairfax Water, said the findings are a
> concern.
> The water authority, which draws from the Potomac and Occoquan rivers to
> provide service to roughly 1.5 million people, is working with USGS and
> other agencies to research and develop ways to improve water treatment
> to eliminate potentially harmful compounds.
> The water treatments used by Fairfax Water, including ozone and
> activated charcoal, have been shown to reduce levels of estrogenic
> compounds, she said.
> Bailey cautioned against drawing dire conclusions about the impact on
> human health. She said, "Fish are a great indicator of the health of our
> waters, but they are not a great indicator of what may translate to
> humans."
> *************
> http://www.georgetownvoice.com/2006-09-07/news/hermaphrodite-fish-provok
> e-concern-about-pollution
> Hermaphrodite fish provoke concern about pollution
> Kent Elliott
> D.C.'s drinking water okay, city officials say
> For those of you who enjoy water from the tap, you may want to consider
> switching to Dasani.
> The United States Geological Survey announced that a large number of
> intersex fish have been found in the Potomac River. The upstream parts
> of the river provide water to Washington and parts of Virginia.
> photo by Michael Keller 80 percent of the tested male sea bass were
> producing immature eggs, according to the survey. Some scientists are
> concerned that these biological irregularities are due to the
> contamination of the river by chemicals called endocrine disruptors.
> Intersex fish were first discovered in 2003 in the Chesapeake Bay, which
> is fed by the Potomac. The gender benders have also been found in the
> water off the San Diego coast.
> Despite concerns about a possible threat to the District's drinking
> water, Thomas Jacobus, general manager of the Washington Aqueduct,
> insisted that the city's tap water is completely safe for human
> consumption.
> "Our water meets all regulatory standards," Jacobus said. "There is no
> indication that people should not drink the water."
> Jacobus acknowledged, however, that these chemicals could possibly be
> harmful if their levels rise. He blamed the presence of the endocrine
> disruptors on medications that reach the sewer system through careless
> disposal.
> He said that there is a lack of guidelines for these chemicals, since
> the Environmental Protection Agency has not created regulations for the
> chemicals despite having extensively researched the issue since 1996.
> Dale Kemery, media contact for the EPA's Office of Water, said that the
> Agency is waiting for more scientific investigations before declaring a
> position.
> "Essentially, this is fairly deep science on a molecular level," Kemery
> said. "It takes a long time to find the facts and the effects on
> humans."
> Some believe that the mere existence of these hormonally altered fish
> signifies a problem. Glen O'Gilvie, President of the Earth Conservation
> Corps, an environmental advocacy group based in Southeast D.C., lamented
> this finding as a sign of the damage that people have done to the area
> ecosystem.
> He also said that he worried the pollution of the Potomac River will
> spill into the Anacostia River, which his organization closely monitors.
> The state of the Anacostia River has also been the subject of concern,
> since neighborhoods near the river have suffered high rates of chronic
> disease.
> "This will have negative effects on us as people as we fish these rivers
> and eat these fish," O'Gilvie said.
> In addition to the possible physical aspects, O'Gilvie is concerned
> about the psychological effect that these modified fish will have on
> Washington citizens.
> "Folks feel discomfort living by a polluted river," O'Gilvie said.
> "There will be a mental effect. It's bad for the area."
> Deborah L. DeBiasi
> Email:   dldebiasi at deq.virginia.gov
> WEB site address:  www.deq.virginia.gov
> Virginia Department of Environmental Quality
> Office of Water Permit Programs
> Industrial Pretreatment/Toxics Management Program
> Mail:          P.O. Box 10009, Richmond, VA  23240-0009
> Location:  629 E. Main Street, Richmond, VA  23219
> PH:         804-698-4028
> FAX:      804-698-4032
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