The cocktail of gender-bending chemicals entering rivers and streams is more potent and harmful than anyone realised, it has been revealed.
Scientists have found an entirely new class of chemicals that is changing male fish into females – and which could be contributing to the soaring rate of infertility and defects in men.
They have yet to find the source of the chemicals, known as anti-androgens, but believe they could come from pesticides, industrial pollution or pharmaceutical drugs.
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Until now it was assumed that the most serious gender bending man-made chemicals were those that mimicked the female sex hormone oestrogen.
The new pollutants, which were discovered in more than 30 rivers, work by blocking male sex hormones such as testosterone. In animal tests they have shown to cause low sperm counts and genital deformities.