On the Radio: Unexpected consequences of beef hormones on aquatic ecosystems

Cattle in the snow near Monmouth, Iowa (Phil Roeder/Flickr)
Cattle in the snow near Monmouth, Iowa (Phil Roeder/Flickr)
July 13, 2015

This week’s On the Radio looks at new research suggesting beef hormones can make their way to waterways for longer periods than originally thought. Listen to the audio below, or continue reading for the transcript:

Transcript: Beef hormones and waterways

A powerful growth hormone used on cattle may be having unexpected consequences on U.S. waterways.

This is the Iowa Environmental Focus.

An Indiana University study co-authored by two University of Iowa researchers shows that trenbolone acetate, or TBA, a growth hormone given to cattle, may be making its way to streams and rivers in an unexpected and highly potent form. That’s according to lead author and CGRER member Adam Ward:

“These are incredibly potent steroids; we designed them to be potent. We designed them to persist so they don’t break down in cattle and continue to have that impact. And when these reach the environment, they do the same thing to fish.”

In the case of TBA, the byproduct is a new compound called 17-alpha-trenbolone, a powerful endocrine disruptor that can affect the reproductive processes of fish and can even cause sex changes from female to male.

“That means the product, what is unexpectedly made in the environment, is more harmful than what we put into the environment.”

For more information about this study, visit IowaEnvironmentalFocus.org.

From the UI Center for Global & Regional Environmental Research, I’m Jerry Schnoor.



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