MSP’s concern as ‘gender bender’ chemicals found in the River Carron
Monday, 12 May 2014 09:49
Falkirk East MSP Angus MacDonald has raised concerns following the revelation that the River Carron in his constituency is one of twenty rivers across Scotland contaminated with toxic ‘gender bender’ chemicals contained in cleaning agents, cosmetics, plastics and pesticides, according to information provided by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa).
Monitoring by the government watchdog has found traces of nonylphenols - chemicals known to disrupt hormones and cause sex changes. Though the production and use of the chemicals is now banned in Europe, they have recently been detected in clothes imported from China and other Asian countries, where there are no restrictions. When the clothes are washed, the chemicals escape and end up in our rivers.
Nonylphenols are endocrine disrupters, which means they can affect hormones like oestrogen in the body. Studies have found that they can cause the ‘feminisation’ of fish, decreasing male fertility and shrinking testicles.
The Chemical Industries Association (CIA), which represents chemical companies, stressed that the use of nonylphenols had been greatly reduced in Europe. Member companies had withdrawn them from UK supply chains, and switched to alternatives.
The chemicals were, however, still used in textile manufacturing outside Europe, and regulators were working with the UK retail industry to try and address the issue.
A study last year by Sepa’s sister agency in England, the Environment Agency, found nonylphenols in 28 out of 96 samples of cotton underwear imported from Asia, half of which came from China. Tests showed that the chemicals came out in the wash.
Voicing his concern over the figures Falkirk East MSP Angus MacDonald said:
“It is clearly a concern that such high traces of nonylphenols are still being found in our rivers despite the use of the chemicals being banned in Europe. Nonylphenols are regarded as a “priority hazardous substance” in water under European law.
“These particular chemicals are very toxic to wildlife, very persistent in the environment and build up in fish, birds and other animals.
“It is possible that the presence of nonylphenols in the environment poses a long-term threat to wildlife on both a local and global scale.”
“I will therefore be raising this issue in Parliament this week as we must ensure the levels are reduced as quickly as possible.”