Monday, December 13, 2010

Is "The Pill" increasing estrogen in drinking water?

Is the pill increasing estrogen amounts in our drinking water?

A new report in the American Chemical Society’s journal Environmental Science and Technology says no.

Finding the source for estrogen in water has become a hot topic in the last few years, since increased hormones in the environment have been linked to many human health problems and the feminization of some fish species in urban rivers. Because more than 12 million women in the US currently take oral contraceptives, the connection between “The Pill” and estrogen and those problems seemed plausible and somewhat alarming.

But after conducting a survey of the most recent available scientific research on the topic, authors Amber Wise, Kacie O’Brien and Tracey Woodruff concluded that estrogen reaches drinking and surface waters from other sources. There’s a strong link, they found, between natural estrogens in soy and dairy products and the animal waste which is used without treatment on farm fields as fertilizer. (One assumes here that farm yard run off must be carrying the estrogens to local streams and rivers.)

Some of the research cited in the article suggests that animal manure accounts for 90 percent of the estrogens in the environment.

According to a press release published last week by the ACS, some sources examined in the paper went so far as to estimate that if just 1 percent of the estrogens in livestock waste reached waterways, it would comprise fifteen percent of the estrogen’s in the world’s total water supply.

(The article appears in the October 26 edition of the journal, which can be found on the ACS website. )

Monday, December 6, 2010

Explore Montgomery County's Urban Forest

If you need a break in the middle of the madness that is December, you might check out these two walks. Both will focus on a different great piece of Montgomery County, Maryland’s urban forest.

On Saturday, December 11, at 10 a.m., arborist Richard Murray will lead a walk in Wheaton Regional which will explore tree architecture and branching patterns. He’ll also discuss how trees compensate for wounding and look at defect patterns in some mature trees in this large urban park. For more info you can contact Richard at or visit the Maryland Native Plant Society website. (MDNPS is sponsoring this event.)

On Saturday, December 18 from 1 – 3 p.m. Diane Cameron will lead a walk for Conservation Montgomery in the McKenney Hills neighborhood. The McKenney Hills Forest is contiguous with an extensive adjacent forest owned by the Montgomery County’s Legacy Open Space Program. Together, the Legacy Open Space Forest and the McKenney Hills Forest constitute an interconnected forest ecosystem totaling 50 acres. This is by far the largest tract of mature forest for many miles around. Public and private experts have noted the uniqueness and spectacular quality of these woods which are within the Capitol View Branch of the Lower Rock Creek watershed. For more information visit the Conservation Mongtomery website or contact them at 240-793-4603. The walk will begin at the end of Hayden Drive, which ends in a cul-de-sac at the site of the future McKenney Hills Elementary School.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Watershed Stewards to host Training Session

As we all put our gardens to bed for the winter, you might be thinking of things you’d do differently next year. If you are one of those enterprising souls who has put in a raingarden recently, the Watershed Stewards Academy of Anne Arundel County, MD would like to hear from you.

They are gathering a list of “lessons learned” about raingardens to share at their Rain Garden and Environmental Site Design and Sustainable Landscape Maintenance training for Landscape Professionals. All designers, installers and maintenance companies are welcome to attend this event, which will take place in January and February.

For more information or to register visit the Chesapeake Network website.