A recent study discovered a peculiar phenomenon which started taking place among fish. We know many people who flush different kinds of pills down the drain, and thought of it as a harmless activity. It seems it’s not really so, since researchers discovered how male fish had started becoming female. This is caused by chemicals in contraceptive pills which end up down the toilet.
Transgender fish from contraceptive pills
Researchers from the University of Exeter studied fish living in freshwater all over Britain and discovered something unexpected was happening to them. About a fifth of male freshwater fish started exhibiting female characteristics. Therefore, they were less aggressive, started producing eggs, and had a lower sperm count.
Now, they wondered what could have determined fish to switch gender, and found a possible explanation. Chemicals in contraceptive pills affect fish more than we would have expected, as well as other substances from cleaning products, cosmetics, or plastic materials.
What changes do these chemicals have on fish?
To see exactly how fish have to suffer from contraceptive pills, researchers created themselves such transgender fish. This allowed them to look at the changes which these chemicals produced in their bodies in real time. For instance, they managed to observe how certain chemicals from plastics, oestrogens, deform their heart valves.
Also, not only contraceptive pills are bad for fish. Other human pills which have dangerous effects on them are antidepressants. These are even more dangerous, since they put fish in direct danger. Antidepressants affect the natural shyness so typical of fish, and might make them get themselves exposed to predators.
Therefore, if you thought flushing pills down the toilet was harmless, think twice before doing it again. There are plenty of chemicals inside them which have the potential to cause drastic changes in the organisms of the fish, and they can affect their environment as well.
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