Snap out of it

Our pal Doug Martz phoned last week to alert News Hits to a front-page story in the Toronto Globe and Mail. Martz, chairman of the Macomb County Water Quality Board, thought we’d be interested to know that male snapping turtles in the Detroit River and other Great Lakes waterways are experiencing — let’s see, how do we put this delicately? — endowment issues. Pollution is being blamed.

According to the April 28 piece, researchers studying Great Lakes wildlife have found “diminished” penis sizes in the snappers. As if that weren’t enough trauma, some males are also producing egg-yolk protein, something only females are supposed to do.

According to Linda Schweitzer, assistant professor of chemistry at Oakland University, wildlife is being subjected to a chemical stew of so-called endocrine disrupters. Pollutants such as dioxin and PCBs accumulate in sediment and work their way up the food chain. Pesticide runoff contributes to the problem, as do pharmaceuticals such as birth control pills and menopause treatments, which are found in human waste and eventually end up being discharged into waterways.

The good news, says Schweitzer, is that the cities of Detroit and Windsor were preparing to address the problem even before results of the Environment Canada study were released. A two-year study launched May 1 will focus on the effects of pharmaceuticals and certain pesticides, and ways to remedy the effects.

But study isn’t enough, says Martz. He’s pushing for more monitoring, and says there’s dire need for a comprehensive warning system to alert municipal water systems to petrochemical spills — also considered part of the endocrine problem — originating in Sarnia, Ontario.

“This is in our own backyard,” says Martz. “The public needs to be protected.”

In other words — and the snapping turtles would be the first to voice this sentiment if they actually had a voice — Stop dickin’ around!

Contact News Hits at 313-202-8004 or [email protected]
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