This prior question talks about natural estrogen (TL;DR: Months to years): How quickly do estrogens break down in the environment?

Ref: http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/485441a

A lot of media has said, "birth control hormones in the water!!!!" Ethinyl estradiol (EE2), is a synthetic hormone

eg: www.livescience.com/20532-birth-control-water-pollution.html

Conversely, a birth control advocacy group, says, "Naw, it's a very small part of the total estrogen load in the environment."
eg: www.arhp.org/publications-and-resources/contraception-journal/august-2011

(can't post more than two links) :P

What I recall reading was that one of the types of birth control hormones got processed by the human body, looked like it was changed (in the urine, etc), and so they were fine with it not causing an issue - but when it got into the environment, it rapidly got changed back into the (estrogen?) it was originally - and thus caused problems.

I'd like a nice summary of what's thought to be going on, preferably from a more neutral source.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Have you tried checking the Environmental Protection Agency's site? It you are talking about the United States, that is likely a chemical that they keep track of and have data on. There is also a distinction between what is in the drinking supply and what is being released into the environment through treated waste water. One would be a concern to humans and one would be a concern to wildlife (fish, birds, etc). I think the issue is that the molecule is excreted but the current methods of treating waste water do not break down the hormone and it is released into waterways. $\endgroup$
    – AMR
    Sep 25, 2015 at 4:35
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    $\begingroup$ Hormones are powerful signaling molecules that affect gene expression, and do not just control pregnancy. Many tumors are estrogen or testosterone positive, so there is a legitimate concern of what these molecules could do to the ecosystem of waterways. $\endgroup$
    – AMR
    Sep 25, 2015 at 4:38
  • $\begingroup$ On a related (but possibly tangential note), also check out the USGS NAWQA. I don't think it covers birth control, but does look at other pollutants. $\endgroup$ Sep 25, 2015 at 18:43


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