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The Connecticut - A River on Drugs?

If you could see a picture I was looking at recently, you would think the editor had made a mistake and placed the picture on its side. On reading the caption though, the striped bass in the picture is in fact "standing on its tail" with its nose facing straight up in a comatose state. The fish was under the effects of an endocrine treatment medicine added to the water.

We now face new types of pollutants known as endocrine disrupters and they are found in profusion in certain watersheds in the US. It is unknown at this time if we face the problem in the Connecticut River.

It is not a matter of whether these compounds are present or not but Vermont, New Hampshire and the federal government have yet to publish the results of any studies so we are ignorant of the presence or lack thereof of drugs in our river.

What are endocrine disrupters? The endocrine system inside our bodies is the network of glands, hormones and receptors that provide communication and controls between the nervous system and bodily functions such as reproduction, immunity, metabolism and behavior. The endocrine system is based on chemicals, the hormones, which are secreted into the blood and reach all parts of the body. What is true for us is true for all animals on earth including our aquatic neighbors.

Endocrine disrupting chemicals mimic the natural hormones in the body. These chemicals are used in thousands of common products. Some closely related drugs react differently to standard wastewater treatment and some do not react at all. Mirror image drugs have the same effects in humans but different reactions to treatment in wastewater processes.

Endocrine disruptors can be natural or synthetic. Some plants, including soybeans and garlic, produce endocrine disruptors as a defense mechanism.

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