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. )