Contraceptives contribute to SA EDCs

2013-03-01 14:44
The urinary output from humans, including female contraceptives, are a contributing factor to Endocrine Disrupting Compounds (EDC) in the South African water system. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

The urinary output from humans, including female contraceptives, are a contributing factor to Endocrine Disrupting Compounds (EDC) in the South African water system. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Cape Town – The urinary output from humans, including female contraceptives, are a contributing factor to Endocrine Disrupting Compounds (EDC) in the South African water system, according to local EDC expert, Professor Edmund Pool.

The compounds have the potential to cause wide ranging health complications including breast cancer in women, prostate cancer, attention deficit and hyperactivity in children, as well as thyroid cancer.

Pool, whose research interests include reproductive toxicology, says female urine contain very high levels of estrogen at certain times of the month. The use of contraceptives is also a contributing factor.

“Besides female’s natural hormones, there are also residues of contraceptives,” he told News24.

Males also contribute EDCs in water through the passing of testosterone in the urine.

Human inputs have become significant due to concentration of humans in urbanised areas.

In a previous News24 report, Pool said treatment plants in the Western Cape are able to remove 80% of EDCs.

Yet, the remaining 20% represents a significant threat to freshwater animals and the human food chain through irrigated vegetables.

SA Legislation

The Department of Water Affairs (DWA) has stated that it does have legislation to protect SA citizens against EDCs.

The department said that its functions are guided by the National Water Act, and more specifically sections 19 and 21.

“In addition we have national monitoring programmes that are established in line with the Act,” the DWA told News24.

“In each water catchment area we have identified water uses and based on the variables of consent which might include EDCs we monitor on a regular basis,” it added.

In accordance with the Act the DWA has set-up a National Toxicity Monitoring Programme which ran a pilot programme between 2008 and 2009.

The R1m programme has reported numerous methodological uncertainties, yet the status of follow-ups and continuous monitoring is unknown.

The DWA was unavailable for further comment at the time of publication.

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