The list of damages humanity is causing to the natural environment (and its inhabitants) is long and is getting longer all the time. In addition to the regular culprits commonly discussed in the media—things like wastefulness, CO2 pollution, and more—there’s a sneakier, but no less insidious, phenomenon that is ongoing: hormones infiltrating the world’s water.
Long thought to originate from estrogen found in birth control pills, the presence of high amounts of hormones in water supplies now appears to mostly come from other sources. These include food sources like soy and dairy and waste from livestock running off into lakes and rivers.
The presence of these hormones in the waterways can have some strong negative effects on aquatic ecosystems, making it a serious concern that needs to be addressed by environmental experts.
Here are some reasons environmental science students should be concerned about hormones in water.
Students in Environmental Science Schools Can See Evidence of Hormones Harming Animals
Fish, amphibians, and other creatures living in waterways seem to be especially vulnerable to hormones. Because of this, being exposed to even a small amount of hormonal contamination can be quite damaging to their development and wellbeing. Over the years, evidence has emerged demonstrating that the presence of hormones in water can cause creatures like frogs and fish to develop intersex (exhibiting male and female qualities) reproductive organs. It can also lead to behavioral differences that make it more difficult for affected creatures to compete for food within their ecosystem. Given that ecosystems tend to exist in delicate balance, these harms could have far-reaching consequences impacting other fish, crustaceans, plankton, and other creatures up and down the food chain.
Assisting the world in mitigating pollution is a top priority for graduates of environmental science schools, and the ongoing damage hormonal contamination does to living creatures means this area should not be ignored. By honing strong scientific and communication skills through schooling, you can become a much-needed voice for the vulnerable creatures affected by hormone runoff and help encourage action to save them from further harm.
Students in Environmental Science Schools Should Know These Hormones May Affect People, too
Currently, there is no evidence that the presence of hormones, such as estrogen, in water has adverse effects on people. However, researchers remain concerned about their presence for two main reasons. First, because of the role estrogen can have in developing breast, uterine, and other cancers, it is considered carcinogenic in many circumstances. Second, estrogen is powerful even in small amounts and its presence in water could have effects on reproductive and overall health, behavior, and other areas important to human wellbeing.
Despite these potential risks, the lack of conclusive evidence and the substantial costs associated with introducing hormone filtering to waste treatment plants has made for slow movement in addressing the issues hormones in water. By completing an Online Environmental Science Master’s program, though, you may be able to help accelerate research and change.
Studying in such a program will help you learn transdisciplinary skills that will allow you to take on important roles in scientific research and modelling, as well as in leading communities to take action on ecological issues. These marketable skills can help you make a big difference, whether you want to find conclusive evidence for the effects of water-based hormones on people, or would like to join the effort to clean them out of the water.
Are you interested in learning more about careers in environmental studies?
Contact Unity College to discover our online Master’s in Professional Science.