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Pollution causes male fish to grow eggs


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'Intersex' Fish Found Off Calif. Coast

LOS ANGELES - Scientists have discovered sexually altered fish off the Southern California coast, raising concerns that treated sewage discharged into the ocean contains chemicals that can affect an animal's reproductive system.

So-called intersex animals are not new, but most previous instances were in freshwater. Environmentalists say this is among the first studies to document the effects in a marine environment.

Last year, federal scientists reported finding egg-growing male fish in Maryland's Potomac River. They think the abnormality may be caused by pollutants from sewage plants, feedlots and factories.

In the latest studies, presented at Monday's Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry in Baltimore, scientists caught 82 male English sole and hornyhead turbot off Los Angeles and Orange counties.

Of those, 11 possessed ovary tissue in their testes, said Doris Vidal of the Southern California Coastal Water Research Project, who led one of the studies.

Scientists do not yet know how such sexual defects affect the overall fish population.

Nearly a billion gallons of treated sewage are released into the Pacific Ocean every day through three underwater pipelines off Huntington Beach, Playa del Rey and Palos Verdes Peninsula.

Although the wastewater is filtered, it still contains contaminants that settle onto the ocean floor.

Two related studies found that two-thirds of male fish near the Orange County pipeline had egg-producing qualities. In a laboratory experiment, male fish exposed to sediment collected from the pipelines also developed egg-producing traits.

Steve Weisberg, who heads the water research project, said the results warrant further study to determine whether sexually altered fish are widespread in ocean waters.


Time was when an american about to go abroad would be warned by his friends or the guidebooks not to drink the water. but times have changed and now a foreigner coming to this country might be offered the following advice.

If you visit american city,

You will find it very pretty.

Just two things of which you must beware:

Don’t drink the water and don’t breathe the air.

Pollution, pollution,

They got smog and sewage and mud.

Turn on your tap and get hot and cold running crud.

See the halibuts and the sturgeons

Being wiped out by detergents.

Fish gotta swim and birds gotta fly,

But they don’t last long if they try.

Pollution, pollution,

You can use the latest toothpaste,

And then rinse your mouth with industrial waste.

Just go out for a breath of air,

And you’ll be ready for medicare.

The city streets are really quite a thrill.

If the hoods don’t get you, the monoxide will.

Pollution, pollution,

Wear a gas mask and a veil.

Then you can breathe, long as you don’t inhale.

Lots of things there that you can drink,

But stay away from the kitchen sink.

The breakfast garbage that you throw in to the bay,

They drink at lunch in san jose.

So go to the city, see the crazy people there.

Like lambs to the slaughter,

They’re drinking the water

And breathing <cough> the air.

-Tom Lehrer

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what's with the poem at the end?

It's actually a song by Tom Lehrer. Before your time. Anyway, the article indicated that the male fish may have grown eggs because of a mutation caused by pollution. Hence the lyrics of the song "Pollution."

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Funny part is I remember starting a thread a while back about what things the governemnt does well. It had some sentiments in it that equated to "nothing."

Well, reading this article, I'm kind of glad we regulate drinking water.

Interestingly, one of Bush's first acts as President in 2001 was to eliminate standards for arsenic in drinking water:

Bush withdraws new arsenic-in-drinking-water standard

March 20, 2001: The Bush administration announced it would withdraw a new standard for arsenic in drinking water, choosing the interests of the mining industry and some small water suppliers over protecting the health of millions of Americans. EPA's final arsenic standard of 10 parts per billion (ppb) would have lowered allowable levels of arsenic in tap water from the current standard of 50 ppb, an outdated standard established in 1942. The 10 ppb standard was the result of more than a decade of public hearings, scientific reviews, and planning with health experts and industry representatives. A few years ago, the World Health Organization and the European Union implemented a 10 ppb standard. It would cost 90 percent of Americans living in areas with high levels of arsenic less than $3 per month to clean up the contaminant in their water supplies.

On April 18, the Bush administration called for new studies on the impacts of arsenic standards ranging from 3 ppb to 20 ppb. The move will mean at least a year's delay in reducing levels of this cancer-causing poison, and may mean EPA will seek an unacceptably weak new standard.

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