Kidd agreed after reviewing their report.
“Our overall impression is that the fish [off Southern California] are being exposed to contaminants and that there are some effects on hormone production in male and female fish,” Kidd said. “However, the conclusions of the report make sense and there is no strong overall evidence of endocrine disruption in turbot at the wastewater-impacted sites.”
The discovery of no gender-bending fish is not that surprising, Kidd said, since that “can be an extreme effect... My gut feeling is that it wouldn't happen very often and it would be species-specific."
“Intersex isn’t the only canary in the coal mine, so to speak,” she said, adding that there could be other signs that their reproductive systems are unhealthy. Scientists do not know much about what altered hormones do to fish fertility. "Any changes in the exposed population, we should be concerned about," she said.
Gully said the money for the second study “wasn’t wasted” because it revealed a lot of new data. But he said it was paid for by residents of the two counties through sewage fees “during a time of budget consciousness.”
The cross-contamination “generated a flurry of concern and stimulated a lot of good research. But that’s a good thing,” Bay said.
This article originally ran at Environmental Health News, a news source published by Environmental Health Sciences, a nonprofit media company.