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Toxic Water Roundup

July 20, 2012

Toxins in water pipes likely caused color blindness in some Massachusetts towns.



The long reach of water pollution. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

A water contaminant called PCE can impair the vision of adults exposed to the chemic al early in life. A report in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives looks at the results of PCE contamination in water pipes in Massachusetts in the 1970s. It found that many adults who lived in the affected towns as young children now have difficulty telling colors apart. The color blindness is greatest for those who had the highest exposure as children.

In other news, the chemical BPA, used in some plastics, can get into lakes and rivers and imitate the hormone estrogen. Now a study in the journal Evolutionary Applications finds that it’s causing fish to mate with the wrong species. The chemical can change the behavior and even the appearance of fish, confusing them and potentially threatening native fish populations. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

Contaminated water can have unexpected health effects. (Jupiter Images)