One of the leading studies warning scientists to the effects of excreted hormones in our water system was conducted in a Canadian lake, where for seven years, birth control hormones were infused at levels mimicking those occurring naturally elsewhere. Within two months of contamination, male fish began exhibiting female behavior, their gonads shrank and they began producing female egg proteins. Ultimately, the fish species in the test lake stopped reproducing and became virtually extinct.
While federal agencies like the EPA have yet to release definitive findings, the March AP story quoted Mary Buzby—director of environmental technology for drug maker Merck & Co. Inc.—as saying: "There's no doubt about it, pharmaceuticals are being detected in the environment and there is genuine concern that these compounds, in the small concentrations that they're at, could be causing impacts to human health or to aquatic organisms."
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Despite risks, the Pill is approaching its fiftieth year on the market. For millions of women—especially those who've experienced unwanted pregnancies in the past, are with men who refuse to use other forms of contraception or have conditions that benefit from staving off periods at all costs—the Pill and its sister hormone supplements are an inarguable choice. Luckily, whether women choose hormonal, non-hormonal, celibacy or other means to avoid becoming pregnant, the most important point is that we have a choice at all.