Flushing birth control down the toilet is creating intersex fish in the Potomac

I couldn’t make this up if I tried.

As reported by the UK Guardian, female contraceptive pills carried in waste water are creating a “toxic stew” that causes male fish in the Potomac River to exhibit female characteristics, such as carrying eggs in their testes. Yes, the same Potomac River that provides 90% of the city’s drinking water.

According to scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey, birth control pills are only one of several chemicals contributing to the toxic cocktail, with other culprits including toiletries with fragrance, antibacterial tissues, flame retardents, and agricultural runoff. The chemicals are thought to mimic natural hormones and disrupt the fishes’ endocrine system, which leads to the bizarre outcome.

So how severe is the problem? A study conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey last year stated that intersex fish were found in 1/3 of the 111 sites tested in the Potomac. Over 80% of male bass, a particularly susceptible species, exhibited female characteristics.

Some confused bass

YIKES. Also since “waste water” is basically scientific-speak for toilet water, this means all of the toxic stew contributors (save agricultural runoff) come from DC TOILETS. The scientists are asking for $3 million over 3 years to continue research and engage pharmaceutical companies on correct disposal methods. FINE by me.

And yesterday we thought chlorine was a problem.

4 thoughts on “Flushing birth control down the toilet is creating intersex fish in the Potomac

  1. This is kind of like those cases on Opera of kids born with both sets and then parents have to pick their gender, leading to gender and sexual preference confusion. How do you think these fish self identify?

  2. @empire state elitist: They have opera about hermaphrodites?!? AWESOME! Unless… you mean Oprah, don’t you? *facepalm*

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