Daily News Archive
From August 1, 2002
Affecting Fish in Chesapeake Bay
National Geographic News reported a recent study by the University of Maryland's Biotechnology Institute and its Center for Marine Biotechnology that found common household chemicals, including pesticides, negatively impacting the sexual health of aquatic life. The scientists say this has serious implications for what is going on in the Chesapeake Bay, as all the chemicals were tested at the same concentration as found in the Bay's system.
The chemicals were found to affect a gene in the brain, aromatase, which influences the production of brain estrogen. The consequences of exposure include a disturbance of not only sex, but also normal development and reproduction. These impacts are equally devastating. John Trant, an associate professor at the Center for Marine Biotechnology, explains, "You might get males who do not display the correct behavior. In order to mate with a female, he may have to court her, build a nest, chase, or show some dominance. So, even if the concentration of these disrupting compounds in the water are not sufficient to completely reverse their sexual physiology, small adjustments in their behaviors would be equally fruitless."