If you are feeling a little braver lately, maybe it’s the water.
I remember the story about a professor of civil engineering. His first lesson every year to the budding crop of young professionals who were going to be handling water systems throughout the country always contained the kidney story.
His estimation was that the average drink of water you get in the U.S.A. has been through 11 kidneys before you get it.
Whether that is true or not, I don’t know, but theoretically, it could explain a lot of things.
Scientists in the U.S. have discovered that estrogen and mimicking compounds have contaminated 80 per cent of the 139 U.S. river systems.
The most damning proof of the problem was found in a study in 2004 in Colorado. Male fish were found to have developed both male and female sexual characteristics. Fish damaged in this way have also been found in Great Britain, Italy, and other countries.
A 2007 report from the University of Pittsburg Cancer Institute, studying environmental oncology, found that fish caught in Pittsburg rivers contained substances that mimicked the actions of female hormones.
The study suggested that feminizing chemicals may be making their way into our food chain.
Scientists all over the world are trying to figure out how to break down the estrogen in the water treatment and sewage systems.
And if you think estrogen is the only problem, Paul Taylor from the Globe and Mail recently reported on a group of researchers from Sweden that has been measuring the effects of a commonly used psychiatric medication and its effect on fish.
In a laboratory, European perch were exposed to oxazepam, an anti-anxiety drug, at the same levels it was found in the lakes and rivers in Sweden. The researchers presented their findings last week in Boston at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Their study claimed that, normally, perch are shy and hunt in schools – a known strategy for survival. Those that swam in oxazepam became bolder, braver, and anti-social.
The boldness apparently changed the behaviour of the perch enough that they went off on their own, making them much more susceptible to predators.
They speculated that the drug is causing the fish to lose their fear of being eaten.
I guess that is the ultimate in anti-anxiety.
They also pointed out that this was not unique to Sweden. It was a global issue. They found the drug concentrations all over the world. It is quite possible and even probable that these effects are continuing to happen today.
So if you are feeling a little braver or feeling your feminine side a little more, it may be the water.
– Gordy Robson is a former Maple Ridge mayor and a local businessman raised in this community. His opinion column appears Tuesdays in the print and/or online versions of The TIMES. Questions and reactions can be emailed to Gordy c/o firstname.lastname@example.org.