Chemicals in Our Bodies
A plastic 55 gallon barrell is seen amongst piles of driftwood and mud along the Potomac River in Cropley, Md., Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2006. Last year, volunteers removed nearly 218 tons of such trash from the Potomac watershed in a single day. Now the group that sponsors the annual cleanup has a new goal: a trash-free Potomac by 2013. Aided by the World Bank, the Chesapeake Bay Trust and some Yale University graduate students, the Alice Ferguson Foundation is pressing every municipality in the Potomac's four-state watershed to participate in a regional effort to banish litter from "the nation's river." (AP Photo/Chris Gardner)

A plastic 55 gallon barrel is seen among piles of driftwood and mud along the Potomac River in Cropley, Md., Feb. 8, 2006. (AP)

For years now, the stories have been piling up. Frogs and salamanders with extra legs. “Intersex fish,” neither male or female. Eighty percent of male smallmouth bass in the Potomac producing eggs.

And the apparent culprit: chemicals in the water — endocrine disruptors — that are also in our water and everyday household items.

Now scientists are tracking large increases in genital deformities in newborn boys, early-onset puberty in girls, obesity and diabetes in animals and humans, and warning that these, too, could have a chemical cause.

This hour, On Point: Danger in the water — endocrine disruptors, and their long reach.

You can join the conversation. Tell us what you think — here on this page, on Twitter, and on Facebook.


Joining us from Amherst, Mass., is R. Thomas Zoeller, professor and chair of biology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He is one of the authors a 50-page scientific statement by the Endocrine Society, “Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals,” which was cited by New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof in his column for Sunday, June 28. (Also see Kristof’s followup blog post on the topic.)

Joining us from Washington is Lynn Goldman, a pediatrician and epidemiologist. She is a professor in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences and in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. In 1993 she was appointed by President Clinton to serve as Assistant Administrator for the EPA’s Office of Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic Substances, where she served for five years.

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