Endocrine Disrupters and the Pill
- How EDs Work
- Our Stolen Future
- Drugs in the Environment
Examples of EDs
- Government Testing
- The Pill as an ED
- History of the Pill
- Case Study: Coastal Waters
- Case Study: Fish
- Case Study: Men in Italy
- What you can do!
- Further Information
Comments & questions to:
Since the 1950's women have had more control over their own bodies,
because of the creation of the birth control pill. By simply taking one
little pill a day, either made of progesterone, synthetic estrogen, or
a combination, women can control their menstrual cycle. Estimates put
the number of women taking the pill to be somewhere around 5.6 million
women in America alone (Johns Hopkins).
Each day women take the pill and it passes through their bodies,
entering the large amount of waste in treatment centers throughout the
nation. Wastewater treatment plants filter out solid waste and many
contaminants, but current systems in America are unable to stop the
growing amount of synthetic estrogens that are entering the wastewater.
When they are not removed in these processes, they will remain in the
water systems, entering waterways and therefore entering drinking water.
Synthetic estrogens are part of a larger problem of
chemicals known as endocrine disrupters. These chemicals enter into the
bodies of marine wildlife and humans and can seriously affect the way
the endocrine system functions. This system controls metabolism,
development, and reproductive functions. This current problem is one
that is so multifaceted and complicated that it is difficult to deal
with directly. One problem is that research on this subject, as well as
policy are being done and made at the same time, making the process of
clear solutions difficult. While this would seem like a positive idea,
the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) research is moving slowly,
and therefore making laws and adhering to already existing ones becomes
more complicated. The more complete research being done, that is
studies with conclusive results are not being paid attention to by the
EPA, which instead is focusing solely on their own research.
Endocrine disrupters (EDs) are a very broad category
encompassing pesticides, plastics, and as mentioned before synthetic
estrogen. While clear steps have and can been taken to get rid of EDs
in pesticides and plastics, simply banning the substance, removing
synthetic estrogen from the world is not a possible answer. The birth
control pill is a medical solution to menstrual problems as well as a
way for women to control their sexuality, banning the pill is not a
solution to the problem that it is negatively effecting the
environment. Having women stop taking the pill is not an option as many
women rely on it not only for sexual but also for medical purposes.
Other technical solutions to dealing with contaminated water are few
and not very economically viable, at this point. New technological
solutions or policy must be created to solve this problem.
The controversy of synthetic estrogens will be
explored here through looking deeply at endocrine disrupters, how they
work, how they were discovered, what chemicals they are, and the
Environmental Protection Agency's current laws surrounding them. Then,
we will look at the pill, its history, and several case studies of its
environmental effects. Finally we will look at possible solutions.
Last updated: 5/2/2006