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Endocrine disrupting chemicals in the aquatic environment
Sumpter, J.P. (2000). Endocrine disrupting chemicals in the aquatic environment, in: Norberg, B. et al. (Ed.) Proceedings of the 6th International Symposium on the Reproductive Physiology of Fish, Bergen, Norway, July 4-9, 1999. pp. 349-355
In: Norberg, B. et al. (Ed.) (2000). Proceedings of the 6th International Symposium on the Reproductive Physiology of Fish, Bergen, Norway, July 4-9, 1999. Department of Fisheries and Marine Biology, University of Bergen: Bergen. ISBN 82-7461-048-2. 499 pp., more
In: International Symposium on the Reproductive Physiology of Fish. Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales, more

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Keyword
    Marine

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  • Sumpter, J.P., correspondent

Abstract
    It is now widely accepted that there are chemicals present in the aquatic environment that have the ability to disrupt the endocrine system, and hence potentially cause adverse effects to aquatic organisms. These chemicals range from natural and synthetic oestrogens (e.g. oestradiol and ethinyl oestradiol, respectively) to man-made xenoestrogens (e.g. nonylphenol, methoxychlor). Other chemicals with other types of endocrine activities are also present in the aquatic environment; for example p,p'-DDT is primarily anti-androgenic, and many PAHs are anti-oestrogenic. It is likely that many more chemicals with endocrine activity will be discovered in the future, and it is equally likely that many chemicals will be shown to have multiple endocrine activities; for example, a chemical may have both oestrogenic and anti-androgenic activities, and also interfere in steroid hormone synthesis and/or metabolism. Despite this rapidly increasing knowledge about chemicals capable of endocrine disruption, it is often very unclear whether these chemicals are present in the aquatic environment at concentrations high enough to cause effects. Instances of apparent endocrine disruption in wild population of fish, such as intersexuality in fish in many rivers in the U.K., have been reported, but the causative agent, or agents, usually remain uncertain or unknown. Nor is it certain presently if the adverse effects observed in individual fish translate into effects at the population level. Finally, even if adverse effects at the population level are demonstrated, it will be necessary to put such effects in context with other pressures on fish populations, such as those caused by over-fishing, increased water abstraction, and habitat loss, before a balanced judgement on the threat posed by endocrine disruption can be made.

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