Saturday, March 24, 2007

Effects of a Synthetic Estrogen on Aquatic Populations

Interesting study:

Effects of a Synthetic Estrogen on Aquatic Populations: a Whole Ecosystem Study, conducted by the Freshwater Institute of Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

The study concerned the effects on aquatic life exposed to ethynylestradiol, a synthetic estrogen used in hormone replacement therapy and birth control pills that is excreted by women; ethynylestradiol is not completely broken down during sewage treatment, and so it ends up in waterways. It looks like the results of this 2-year study were published in 2004, and the Freshwater Institute in Canada is continuing to study the issue in order to assess long term effects. I am not aware, however, if any other more recent studies have been done on this particular issue. If my readers are aware of anything more recent, feel free to comment.

This is from their executive summary:
Municipal wastewater treatment plants (MWTP) discharge numerous contaminants into aquatic systems, and some of these chemicals are known or believed to act like hormones and interfere with the growth, reproduction and development of aquatic organisms. It is becoming increasingly apparent that male fish exposed to these effluents are becoming feminized due to the presence of natural and synthetic estrogens in the water. The potent synthetic estrogens excreted by women taking hormone replacement therapy or birth control pills are not completely broken down in the sewage treatment process and are discharged into waterways. The male fish exposed to these estrogens produce egg proteins, have smaller gonads and, in the more severe cases, develop eggs...

During the summer of 2001, the synthetic estrogen used in birth control pills, ethynylestradiol, was added continuously to one lake to maintain low and environmentally-relevant concentrations in the water. Laboratory and field studies had previously demonstrated that this estrogen does not persist in the water, and can be degraded by bacteria naturally present in the sediments of the lake. The additions were done from the end of May until the end of October, and mean concentrations of the estrogen were 6.1 ng/L in the surface waters of the lake. We monitored the lake for responses of the individual fish (lake trout, sucker and minnows) and their populations, as well as changes in the tadpoles, bacteria, algae, leeches, zooplankton and benthic invertebrates as a result of the estrogen additions.

This study was successful at reproducing some of the impacts seen in fish downstream of MWTPs. Male fish from the estrogen-addition lake produced high concentrations of egg protein precursors, had developmental delays in their gonads and, in one species of minnow, produced eggs. Female fish exposed to the estrogen also showed delays in reproductive development and changes in the amount and timing of the egg protein production. The kidneys and livers were also impacted likely due to the atypical and high production of egg proteins in these fish. In the fall of 2001, we did not see any changes in the sizes of the fish populations, fish growth rates, the numbers of males versus females, and the survival of the offspring. It is likely that population- level responses of long-lived organisms will take longer to appear, and for this reason we are continuing to monitor the fish populations in this lake for 3 years following the estrogen additions.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Happiness on the Bayou is...

Boiled Crawfish...

I can't get enough! Crawfish were everywhere in Alabama, where I have family, but for some reason, they never really caught them to eat them. I had to come to southeastern Texas for that...

Thursday, March 22, 2007

... like a magnifying glass...
Let us try to foster deep down in our hearts a burning desire, an intense eagerness to achieve sanctity, even though we see ourselves full of failings. Do not be afraid: the more one advances in the interior life, the more clearly one sees one's own faults. Grace works in us like a magnifying glass, and even the tiniest speck of dust or an almost invisible grain of sand can appear immensely large, for the soul acquires a divine sensitivity, and even the slightest shadow irritates one's conscience, which finds delight only in the limpid clarity of God. Speak now from the bottom of your heart:
"Lord, I really do want to be a saint. I really do want to be a worthy disciple of yours and to follow you unconditionally."
And now you should make a resolution to renew each day the great ideals which inspire you at this moment.
-St. Josemaría Escrivá, from his sermon The Richness of Ordinary Life.
Baby Rabies

Apparently "baby rabies" is one of many derogatory terms used to indicate "the condition of desiring to have a child". The term is most often used by some (not all) childfree folks, which is not the same as childless. "Breeders" is another, more familiar term. One might run across the term in some of the online pro-choice forums, where artificial birth control, particularly the birth control pill and other drugs that may have an abortifacient effect, are referred to simply as medication. One might also note how television ads for birth control are remarkably similar to television ads for Herpes treatments. Children are a great responsibility, but when a society equates children with disease, I just don't see how much longer it can survive. That's just my observation.

In an effort to cover my bases here, I want to add that I also know the term has been used to refer specifically to an inordinate desire to have a baby, as in, a desire for the wrong reasons, lacking a sense of responsibility, etc... But I have seen it used generally (primarily in pro-choice circles, as I mentioned) to refer to any strong inclination toward motherhood, something that is quite natural, and should never be associated with a disease, as though it were some sort of unnatural affliction.

Monday, March 19, 2007

quīnta essentia: fifth essence

One of my favorite English words: quintessential, from quintessence:
quin·tes·sence /kwɪnˈtɛsəns/
1. the pure and concentrated essence of a substance.
2. the most perfect embodiment of something.
3. (in ancient and medieval philosophy) the fifth essence or element, ether, supposed to be the constituent matter of the heavenly bodies, the others being air, fire, earth, and water.
[Origin: 1400–50; Middle English < Medieval Latin quīnta essentia fifth essence]

—Related forms
quin·tes·sen·tial /ˌkwɪntəˈsɛnʃəl/ adjective
Or from the online Etymology dictionary:
c.1430, in ancient and medieval philosophy, "pure essence, substance of which the heavenly bodies are composed," literally "fifth essence," from Medieval French quinte essence (14c.), from Medieval Latin quinta essentia, from Latin quinta, feminine gender of quintus "fifth" + essentia (see essence). Loan-translation of Greek pempte ousia, the "ether" added by Aristotle to the four known elements (water, earth, fire, air) and said to permeate all things. Its extraction was one of the chief goals of alchemy. Sense of "purest essence" (of a situation, character, etc.) is first recorded 1570; quintessential (n.) is from 1899, in this sense.
Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhoration

In case you haven't yet heard, the recently released post-synodal apostolic exhortation on the Eucharist, Sacramentum Caritatis, written by the Holy Father, is available on the Vatican website. Check it out. It's an excellent read, very comprehensive. Introduction:
The sacrament of charity, the Holy Eucharist is the gift that Jesus Christ makes of himself, thus revealing to us God's infinite love for every man and woman. This wondrous sacrament makes manifest that "greater" love which led him to "lay down his life for his friends" (Jn 15:13). Jesus did indeed love them "to the end" (Jn 13:1). In those words the Evangelist introduces Christ's act of immense humility: before dying for us on the Cross, he tied a towel around himself and washed the feet of his disciples. In the same way, Jesus continues, in the sacrament of the Eucharist, to love us "to the end," even to offering us his body and his blood. What amazement must the Apostles have felt in witnessing what the Lord did and said during that Supper! What wonder must the eucharistic mystery also awaken in our own hearts!
Be warned that if you rely on the secular media to tell you what the exhortation says, you will probably receive very little benefit.


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