With fish in DC's Potomac River increasingly displaying intersex traits, scientists are now pointing fingers at toxins found in products like birth-control pills.
The culprit, endocrine disruptor, comes from birth-control toxins released into water supplies, either through urine or whole pills flushed down toilets (more often than you'd think!). Yet the pill is not the sole perpetrator. Endocrine disruptors are also found in toiletries (especially those with fragrances), tissues with antibacterial agents, and consumer and agricultural products. They can be a weak form of estrogen, which is why developing males are affected most.
But amphibians are not the only species suffering; humans are, too. There's been an increase in the number of boys born with deformed genitalia. And while many of the problems at birth can be corrected, it's still quite scary. Now we're left to wonder what can happen after birth?
Last year Robert Lawrence, a professor of environmental health sciences at Johns Hopkins, told New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof a curious thing. "A lot of these compounds act as weak estrogen," he said, "so that’s why developing males — whether smallmouth bass or humans — tend to be more sensitive."
Sensitive to what? Like light or life? Is this where the crisis of masculinity begins?