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Archive for the ‘Endocrine disruptors’ Category

National Public Radio has a fantastic set of stories out this morning about the growing controversy surrounding Corexit, the chemical BP is using to disperse oil pouring form the uncapped well of the sunken Deepwater Horizon rig. In short, BP has been pouring Corexit into the Gulf of Mexico to the tune of tens of thousands of gallons each day to help disperse the thick oil. However, we simply do not know the consequences of long-term Corexit toxicity to ocean life — everything from the fish we eat to the microbes which form the basis of ocean ecosystems.

The concern isn’t that Corexit itself will kill all ocean life. Instead, the real fear is that Corexit will act as an endocrine disruptor on marine life. Endocrine disruptors are compounds that mimic biological hormones. They get into the body, chemically masquerade as hormones, and disrupt the body’s natural signaling processes. Hormones govern everything from metabolism to sexual development — so, endocrine disruptors in the environment have the potential to devastate whole ecosystems, even in small doses. Plus, endocrine disruptors can settle into the environment and persist for decades, as we’re seeing with the many endocrine disruptors leaching out from today’s plastic compounds.  We’re not sure what the effects of these endocrine disruptors will be for tomorrow’s world.

Thus, in trying to lessen the impact form one environmental catastrophe, BP may be unleashing another. Only time and research will tell.

Both of these stories from NPR delve into further details. The second link is an audio file to a terrific interview with Jon Hamilton, one of NPR’s science correspondents.

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Earlier today, I headed over to the University of Washington campus so high school students could teach me all about water quality problems facing the Puget Sound region. The event showcased projects the students themselves had chosen to research and test as part of their science classes at three Seattle high schools. Three local organizations put on the event: the Center for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence, the University of Washington’s GK12 teaching fellowship program, and SoundCitizen.

In short, the event was a tremendous success. The students were curious and enthusiastic about their chosen topics, and this biologist learned quite a lot. Any and all water quality issues were addressed: from environmental pollutants to saving the local orca pods.

Belatedly, I remembered that I had my iPhone with me, and took a few pictures of my favorite presentations. Unfortunately, my iPhone photography skills leave a lot to be desired.
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