Like we couldn’t have guessed that, but here’s evidence:
HALIFAX – The lead researcher of a new study is calling for improvements to some of Canada’s waste water treatment facilities after finding that introducing the birth control pill in waterways created a chain reaction in a lake ecosystem that nearly wiped out a freshwater fish.
The study, which is being published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B on Monday, found that introducing small amounts of estrogen into a lake led to the near extinction of the fathead minnow because it interfered with the fish’s ability to reproduce.
Lead researcher Karen Kidd of the University of New Brunswick said the study has been ongoing since the late 1990s, when researchers in the United Kingdom discovered that male fish began to develop eggs when estrogen was introduced in their habitat.
Kidd said their study set out to build on that research to determine whether the estrogen would effect the fathead minnow’s ability to reproduce and whether there were larger effects on the lake’s ecosystem.
Reseachers started introducing small amounts of estrogen into an Ontario freshwater lake research facility in 2001, Kidd said.
“Right away, the male fish started to respond to the estrogen exposure by producing egg yolk proteins and shortly after that they started to develop eggs,” she said in an interview from Saint John, N.B. “They were being feminized.”
Kidd said shortly after introducing the estrogen, the number of fathead minnow crashed, reducing numbers to just one per cent of the population.
“It was really unexpected that they would react so quickly and so dramatically,” she said. “The crash in the population was very evident and very dramatic and very rapid and related directly to the estrogen addition.”
Kidd said that created a domino effect, causing the population of lake trout, the fathead minnow’s main predator, to decline. She said the number of insects, the fathead minnow’s main source of food, also started to increase.
There are several areas in Canada that have feminized male fish because of municipal water sewage being released into waterways, Kidd said, including in Wascana Creek in Saskatchewan, the Grand River in southwest Ontario and the South Saskatchewan River in southern Alberta.
“It’s a problem that we can certainly resolve with better waste water treatment,” she said.
Ah yes; simply come up with better wastewater treatment…
Even though this isn’t the first potentially problematic environmental impact of the Pill that has been noted…
Not to mention other problems with the Pill…
All the more reason why doctors should be allowed to opt out of prescribing birth-control pills.