'Intersex' fish found in Potomac

LiveScience reports that “intersex" fish, with both male and female characteristics, have been discovered in the Potomac River and its tributaries. This of course raises questions about how whatever contaminants are causing this, will affect the people who drink tap water.

Last month's testing at three tributaries emptying into the Potomac revealed that more than 80 percent of all male smallmouth bass found were growing eggs, according to Vicki S. Blazer, a fish pathologist with the U.S. Geological Survey.

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Although scientists have not identified the source or sources of the problem, the results appear to suggest that the Potomac River and its tributaries have a problem with so-called “endocrine disrupters,'' which can tamper with natural chemical signals.

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Scientists have identified a large number of pollutants that could be to blame -- including human estrogen from processed sewage, animal estrogen from farm manure, certain pesticides and soap additives.

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Congress in 1996 required the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to study how the pollutants may affect human health. A decade later, however, officials said the agency hasn't tested any chemical, the Post reported.

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