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Air Pollution is Feminizing Fish
International, 7/6/2015

According to a study on remote lakes in the Pyrenees and the Tatras in Slovakia air pollution is feminizing fishes in high mountain lakes, hundreds of kilometers away from urban centers due to pollutants that travel through the air.

The endocrine disruptors, pollutants that can alter hormonal balance, have come windblown to remote mountain lakes, far from the industrial urban and agricultural centers where they originate, which is causing that males living there present female characteristics.

According to the study, published in the journal Nature Scientific Reports, the lakes are getting these chemicals that are accumulating in the fish. The researchers -from the Institute of Environmental Assessment and Water Research (IDAEA-CSIC), the Centre for Ecological Research and Forestry Applications (CREAF-UAB), and the University of Innsbruck (Austria) – found disruptors in blood, liver and muscle tissue of fish, causing males to present feminine characteristics. "You could say that male fish swallow involuntarily contraceptive pills," says zoologist Reinhard Lackner.

Previous studies have already revealed the feminizing effects in fish, but the differential aspect of this work is that pollution is only, ie, atmospheric which is not related to discharges or urban waste.

It has been observed that contaminants which alter the hormonal system - called endocrine disruptors - managed to reach the interior of the fish traveling through the air and deposited on remote lakes. "These lakes are far from emission sources of these compounds, such as cities or fields, so the only route of contamination is through the air," says Jordi from the Catalán CREAF.


Topic(s):    BiodiversityEnvironmental management