|Birth Control Pills and Drinking Water Estrogen|
|SciMed - Healthcare|
|TS-Si News Service|
|Friday, 18 February 2011 15:00|
San Francisco, CA, USA. Birth control pills account for less than 1 percent of the estrogens found in the nation's drinking water supplies, concludes scientists from an analysis of studies published on the topic.
There is ongoing concern about possible links between chronic exposure to estrogens in the water supply and fertility problems and other adverse human health effects. The new report runs contrary to current media reports and popular belief, suggesting that most of the sex hormone — source of concern as an endocrine disruptor with possible adverse effects on people and wildlife — enters drinking water supplies from other sources.
Almost 12 million women of reproductive age in the United States take the pill, and their urine contains the hormone. Hence, the belief that oral contraceptives are the major source of estrogen in lakes, rivers, and streams.
The researchers were Amber Wise, Kacie O'Brien and Tracey Woodruff from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). Wise also serves as Assistant Professor at Asian University for Women in Bangladesh.
Their report appears in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.Knowing that sewage treatment plants remove virtually all of the main estrogen — 17 alpha-ethinylestradiol (EE2) — in oral contraceptives, the scientists decided to pin down the main sources of estrogens in water supplies.
Their analysis found that EE2 has a lower predicted concentration in U.S. drinking water than natural estrogens from soy and dairy products and animal waste used untreated as a farm fertilizer. And that all humans, (men, women and children, and especially pregnant women) excrete hormones in their urine, not just women taking the pill.
Some research cited in the report suggests that animal manure accounts for 90 percent of estrogens in the environment. Other research estimates that if just 1 percent of the estrogens in livestock waste reached waterways, it would comprise 15 percent of the estrogens in the world's water supply.
FYIThis manuscript is part of the Environmental Science & Technology Special Issue, published as Environmental Policy: Past, Present, and Future.
CitationAre Oral Contraceptives a Significant Contributor to the Estrogenicity of Drinking Water? Amber Wise, Kacie O’Brien, Tracey Woodruff. Environmental Science & Technology 2011; 45(1): 51–60. doi:10.1021/es1014482
Recent observed feminization of aquatic animals has raised concerns about estrogenic compounds in water supplies and the potential for these chemicals to reach drinking water. Public perception frequently attributes this feminization to oral contraceptives (OCs) in wastewater and raises concerns that exposure to OCs in drinking water may contribute to the recent rise in human reproductive problems. This paper reviews the literature regarding various sources of estrogens, in surface, source and drinking water, with an emphasis on the active molecule that comes from OCs. It includes discussion of the various agricultural, industrial, and municipal sources and outlines the contributions of estrogenic chemicals to the estrogenicity of waterways and estimates that the risk of exposure to synthetic estrogens in drinking water on human health is negligible. This paper also provides recommendations for strategies to better understand all the potential sources of estrogenic compounds in the environment and possibilities to reduce the levels of estrogenic chemicals in the water supply..
|Last Updated on Friday, 18 February 2011 14:39|