Our Reports

Overview: Endocrine disruptors in the environment

Scientists have learned that some chemicals may mimic or disrupt the hormones of people and wildlife, with potentially health-damaging results. They can be natural, like the estrogens produced by plants or cows, or synthetic, like birth control pills. They are known to be widespread in the nation’s waters, and to a lesser extent have turned up in groundwater. Sidebar to story on estrogenic wells in northeastern Wisconsin’s karst region.

Expert: Managing manure keeps emerging pollutants out of water

Kewaunee County dairy farmer Chuck Kinnard walks a grassed waterway on his land, built to keep runoff from contaminating groundwater. Like many farmers here, he is acutely aware of what a thin layer of soil protects the bedrock below.

“A well-managed place is not going to get manure into the groundwater,” said Laurence Shore, a physiologist in Israel who studies the fate of hormones in the environment. With a video tour of an anaerobic digester at the two-dairy, 8,000-cow Holsum Dairies in Calumet County.

Drugs found in Lake Michigan, miles from sewage outfalls

Prescription drugs are contaminating Lake Michigan two miles from Milwaukee’s sewage outfalls, suggesting that the lake is not diluting the compounds as most researchers expected, according to new research. Republished from Environmental Health News.

Studies: Endocrine disruptors, cocaine common in Minnesota waters

Environmental experts said the discoveries in lakes, rivers and streams increase the pressure on Wisconsin to figure out what’s in its water. A key Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources official said that the state’s waters were likely also contaminated, but that the state had no money for such monitoring.

Experts avoid sounding alarm on chemicals — but adjust their own habits

photographer standing by lake michigan

“It’s hard not to make people too worried about a lot of things,” said UW-Madison pediatric endocrinologist Ellen Connor, after running through a plethora of hypothesized health effects — genital abnormalities, tumors, lower sperm counts, diabetes, early puberty — and an equally long list of worrisome chemicals.

Tainted fish

Fish advisories map

The four groups of chemicals that trigger consumption advisories — PCBs, mercury, dioxins and PFOS (perfluorooctane sulfate) — have all been associated with endocrine disruption.

Minnow reveals wastewater’s toxic effects

The male fathead minnow'€™s fat pad and pimple-like bumps, called tubercules, will shrink if he is exposed to estrogen. Fathead minnows, sold in Wisconsin bait shops and swimming in its waters, are a key species for research on endocrine disruption.

Males exposed to chemicals managed to mate if other males were not around. But if they had to compete with the control males, however, they “suffered nearly total reproductive failure”: They had no game.