Pill Chill

Birth Control Meds Foul Global Waters




After ethinylestradiol (EE2), the active ingredient in most birth control pills, has done its duty in preventing pregnancy, it can begin a second life as a pollutant that harms wildlife, creating “intersex” fish and amphibians, and is difficult and costly to remove from wastewater streams that carry it into natural waterways. EE2 is only one of many synthetic hormones that humans excrete into wastewater.

The European Union wants to upgrade 1,360 wastewater treatment plants to utilize necessary charcoal-filtering technology to tackle EE2 contamination across England and Wales. Meeting proposed limits will require expenditures of $41 billion to $47 billion, according to Richard Owen, a professor at the University of Exeter, in the UK.

In the journal Nature, Owen and Susan Jobling, Ph.D., an ecotoxicologist at London’s Brunel University, write that more public debate on EE2 regulation is needed. “Animals are exquisitely sensitive to it,” observes Jobling.

Owen queries: “Are we willing to pay this cost as a society or would we prefer to live with the environmental impact?”


Source: LiveScience.com

Edit ModuleShow Tags

More from Natural Awakenings

Migrating Trees

Three-quarters of American tree species have shifted to the West since 1980 due to dryer conditions in the East and changing rainfall patterns.

Plutonium Problem

To safely dispose of 56 million gallons of nuclear waste dating back to the Second World War, the Department of Energy might replace a glass-log encasement plan with a cement option.

Bat Banter

Computer algorithms helped Israeli researchers decode the language of Egyptian fruit bats and discover that bats exchange information about specific problems.

Tuna Turnaround

Levels of toxic mercury in Atlantic Bluefin tuna declined 19 percent between 2004 and 2012, a drop that scientists attribute to a shift from coal to natural gas and renewable energy.

Buzzing RoboBees

Harvard researchers have invented tiny robotic bees that may be able to eventually pollinate the crops that are under threat because of vanishing bee colonies.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags