Jan 19, 2007

Potomac River Polluted With Harmful Chemicals

A study by the US Geological Survey discovered pollutants that contain endocrine disrupters in several tributaries of Washington, D.C.’s Potomac River. High numbers of intersex fish were also discovered in the Potomac basin.

Endocrine disrupters mimic or block hormones in the body. These chemicals can cause birth defects and reproductive irregularities.

The Potomac River is fed by streams in Maryland, West Virginia and Virginia.

BBC News reported that the USGS discovered pesticides, flame retardants and personal-care products that contained known or suspected endocrine disrupters in all of the eight sites that were tested. The chemicals were also found in all of the smallmouth bass that the team examined.

To discover the source of the pollution, scientists examined wastewater and run-off from several different sites.

The scientists found that wastewater effluent, treated and untreated, agricultural and pest control activities and industrial wastewater all contributed to the problem.

Municipal effluent was the most disturbing, as it contained at least seven compounds that contained endocrine disruptors.