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Ban Urged on Chemicals Causing Gender-Bending Fish

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Aired 4/19/09

Environmental groups want the EPA to ban certain toxic chemicals from industrial and household detergents. They've asked the agency to prevent the use of the products because of the gender bending effect on fish.  KPBS Reporter Ed Joyce has more.

The toxic chemicals are called nonylphenol ethoxylates or NPEs which are used in many detergent products. Researchers believe wastewater and farm runoff polluted with chemicals that stimulate estrogen production, including NPEs, are causing male fish to develop female characteristics. The so-called intersex fish have been found in waters off Orange and Los Angeles Counties and throughout the country over the past decade. Ed Hopkins with the Sierra Club says even at low levels the NPE's are unsafe.

Hopkins: Male fish have been found bearing eggs and they disrupt the male-to-female sex ratio and they cause other kinds of reproductive problems with fish."

In San Diego, the Point Loma Sewage Treatment plant removes all chemicals the EPA mandates but NPEs are not on that list. The EPA has 90 days to deny the petition or grant it and develop a rule. Ed Joyce, KPBS News.

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