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Introduction How Rivers Run Stories Value Of A River What We Can Do
Quality of a River - Water Quality
Contaminants: Endocrine disruptors (pg 8 of 8)

Humans, like aquatic organisms, are susceptible to these effects. Humans are spared constant contact with the stream environment, but do eat fish from polluted streams and rely on rivers for drinking water. They may also come into contact with endocrine disruptors from other sources, such as contaminated foods or household water vapors.

Researchers have found that women who ate as few as two meals a month of Lake Michigan fish high in PCBs delivered babies with smaller heads, lower birth weights, and a tendency toward premature birth, compared with women who did not eat these fish. During their early years, these children scored poorly on visual memory tests, and lagged in short-term memory and attention span. Another report revealed that adults who ate a lot of Great Lakes fish with high levels of PCBs had difficulty with learning and memory, compared with other adults. In another study, high rates of the herbicide atrazine in rural drinking water corresponded with low birth weights, prematurity, and intrauterine growth retardation in communities served by those water supplies (Short and Colburn, 1999); (Colburn and Thayer, 2000); (Maczka et al., 2000);.

Dr. Vincent Garry at the University of Minnesota Medical Center has demonstrated that humans are not exempt or immune from these contaminants. Dr. Garry conducted a thorough study in a 1989-1992 examination of birth defects in Minnesota. Study results found that the rate of birth defects is increased in offspring born to pesticide applicators, but was not limited to those families. The general population of the Red River Valley in western Minnesota where agricultural production is highest were also more likely to have a baby with birth defects than in eastern regions not as heavily farmed. The incidence of birth defects in this region was highest in those children conceived in the spring, during the time of heaviest pesticide use. Study results are based on data from live births only, which means that birth defects among fetuses miscarried or aborted were not included (Garry et al., 1996); (Lin and Garry, 2000).

Additional research conducted in the Red River Valley demonstrated that miscarriages occur most frequently among families whose male spouse applies pesticides in the spring. Findings also show a shift in sex ratios in those applicator families whose male spouse applied fungicides and other products including herbicides, with a decline in the ratio of boy to girl children born (Garry et al., 2002a); (Garry et al., 2002b).

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