Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Bad Study or Bad Reporting. You be the Judge

This kind of science reporting pisses me off. It's been observed for some time that a variety of cancers, tumors, growths and sex changes occur in fish in highly polluted rivers. The question has always been what is/are the cause(s) and how important are they. This headline makes it sound like they got to the bottom of it right?

Susquehanna Smallmouth Bass with tumor
Study finds causes for mutant bass in Susquehanna River

First of all, they're not mutant. They're sick, but they're not mutant.
The multi-year study released Monday by the state Department of Environmental Protection and the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission also found that pathogens and parasites are probable contributors to the mutations and population decline afflicting what was once one of the best bass fisheries in the eastern U.S.

“This study does not identify a single smoking gun. But it does point the way toward likely causes, which we will continue to pursue,” said DEP Secretary John Quigley, who said the complexity of the lengthy river system has challenged researchers.
So there's no smoking gun?
 “We could have said in 2005 that parasites and pathogens were likely causes,” Mr. Arway said, “but now to say that herbiicides and endocrine disrupting compounds are also scientifically likely causes is the new thing and a big step.”

The next step is to identify the sources of those endocrine disruptors and herbicides, and follow up with a long-term, mandatory plan to reduce them in the river, Mr. Arway said.
Not only is there no smoking gun, they've added new substances to list of possible causes! Progress!

But what are you going to do when it turns out that a major contributor to the problem is hormones from birth control pills, which pass largely intact through sewage treatment plants and into the streams? Ban birth control pills?

War on women!

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