Publication Year

1996

Keywords

Biology, xenopus laevis, estrogen, embryo, cells

Disciplines

Biology | Cell and Developmental Biology | Life Sciences

Abstract

Many of the compounds released into the environment today are known to be toxic and cause harmful effects for both humans and other organisms. A large number of these chemicals are suspected to be endocrine-disrupting and the cause of irreversible abnormalities related to the sexual development of an organism. These endocrine-disrupting substances act through various pathways to interrupt the normal course of steroid hormone action during development. The chemicals which interfere with and/or mimic endogenous estrogen are called estrogenic. The sources of estrogenic compounds in the environment are widely dispersed and include industrial effluents such as plastics, wood pulp, detergents and sewage; medical drugs including DES and birth control pills; pesticides such as DDT; and food products such as caffeine and saccharin. Because many of these compounds are disposed of near a source of water, they tend to accumulate quickly and can be found in high concentrations in rain and well water, lakes, oceans and terrestrial food sources. It is suspected that out of 60,000 possible organic pollutants found in raw, potable, and waste water, only 3,000 have been identified, and many of these are estrogenic. In a study done by Ana M. Soto at Tufts University, bisphenol-A and nonylphenol, which are used to strengthen plastics, have been found to be highly estrogenic in rodents and human breast cancer cells. It is feared that the presence of hormonal compounds in the environment may result in malformations during embryonic development and disruption of normal endocrine function in the adult.

Department 1 Awarding Honors Status

Biology

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