Compounds that alters a normal cellular process in an organism and causes harm either to that organism or its offspring. Most often the altered mechanisms belong to the endocrine system – hence the term endocrine disruptor.
WHY FLATHEAD MINNOWS ARE USED
Using water chemistry data sets assembled by the USGS and US Fish & Wildlife Service between 2010 and 2014, Dr. Schoenfuss has identified which chemicals occur most frequently in water and in what concentrations. For 300 days, flathead minnows — the “white lab rat” of aquatic toxicology — are continuously exposed in his laboratory to inflowing water spiked with just the right amount of chemicals (stressors) to closely mimic the environmental conditions these fish might encounter in normal river or lake conditions, similar to those relatively impaired like Minnesota's Crow River.
CONTAMINANTS OF EMERGING CONCERN (CEC)
[STRESSORS FED TO THESE FISH]
PINK- Urban chemicals that include pharmaceuticals commonly detected in North American waters, estrogens (from human sewers), personal care products and DEET, an over-the-counter insect repellant.
GREEN - A mix of common herbicides like atrazine and glyphosate, inert ingredients found in agricultural formulations such as alkylphenols, and estrogens directly associated with manure.
WHITE - Ethanol
YELLOW/RED - Various nitrate levels
TO DISCOVER WHAT HAPPENS TO PEOPLE WHEN HERBICIDES LIKE ATRAZINE AND GLYPHOSATE, AS WELL AS PHARMACEUTICALS AND PERSONAL CARE PRODUCTS, END UP IN THEIR DRINKING WATER, SCIENTISTS BEGIN BY TESTING FISH.
“At a basic biological level many processes that happen within a fish or fish cell will happen in a comparable fashion in human cells,” Dr. Schoenfuss observes. “Both have cellular mechanisms that can be disturbed by exposure to Contaminants of Emerging Concern (CEC). These effects are often not confined to a single organism but may affect the health of an entire population, species or even its surrounding food web. If the reproduction of small fish is impaired as a result of CEC exposure, this can alter the entire community structure in a lake or river.” The same can be said for people.