Thursday, November 23, 2006

We'll be swimming in Estrogen

So hi, I'm back for the second day in a row; downright amazing when you consider my posting track record of late. Part of the reason I've been absent from sushinight (so sad) is that I've been busy teaching a course on the health effects of chemical exposures in the workplace. And some of the material was not, shall we say, intimately known to me before I lectured about it.

One of the main topics I've been talking about in class lately is how some chemicals can mimic the hormones in the human body. And the hormonal system is complicated, let me tell you (and not just during puberty, which we all know is a complicated time directly related to wierd things happening with hormones).

But I digress.

Pesticides are one of the biggest baddest classes of compounds when it comes to disrupting hormonal systems. Lots of them are capable of mimicing estrogen. Now, estrogen regulates all sorts of things but I would be most worried about its effect on the reproductive system. Like, say upsetting the female cycle... or affecting fetuses - causing perhaps feminization of baby boys, or weird reproductive deficits when those babies reach adulthood.

Of course, it's hard to say what the effect of very low-dose exposure to environmental contaminants is. But I was still surprised to hear that the EPA has decided to allow pesticide application over and near bodies of water. Apparently, as long as it's needed to control aquatic weeds, mosquitoes or other pests, it can be applied straight into the water or onto overhanging foliage.


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