However, most endocrine disruptors are human-made chemicals, such as pharmaceuticals, phthalates (used as plasticisers), alkylphenols (industrial detergents), and bisphenol A (used in packaging food), that are released into the environment unintentionally. They have been shown to cause developmental and reproductive abnormalities in wildlife, and can cause birth defects, breast cancer, prostate cancer, and infertility in humans.
For the most part our wastewater treatment plants were engineered and built beginning in the 1950s. The technology used in those plants was and is pegged to deal with the pollutants of the time. Things have changed from those earlier times and our technology is falling behind in dealing with modern pollutants.
In the meantime things could slip out of control if there is no response on the part of our policy makers. We may face situations where there are no male fish of certain species and five legged frogs as normal occurrences.
Disrupters play a role in the feminization of male fish that has been reported from many countries across the world. The effects reported are probably a consequence of exposure to a mixture of estrogenic chemicals.
Along with endocrine disrupters we are also looking at another new technology being dumped onto our waters called nano particles, molecules less than one thousandth the width of a human hair. Nano particles are extremely small particles, sometimes only one cell thick that are used in a wide variety of products and the number is growing.
Several studies have shown there are health risks posed by nano particles. Manufacturers are putting these particles into skincare products. Even worse, the FDA is allowing them to do so without adequate testing of the new technology or its consequences for human health in direct application situations and nobody is looking to see their effects in our rivers and lakes.