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Recently, diverse field and experimental studies have been brought together to suggest that abnormal sexual and reproductive development in wildlife might be caused by the endocrine-like activity of pollutants acting on embryos. For example, hormonal and gonadal anomalies in juvenile alligators from Florida are associated with exposure to DDT and dicofol, experimental work on laboratory rodents has identified estrogenic and androgenic properties of several pollutants, including polychlorinated biphenyls, and injection of gull eggs with metabolites of DDT produces intersex gonads in the male hatchlings. Very little evidence is available for birds that demonstrates a deficit in reproductive capability by this mechanism. Our breeding and egg-injection studies are investigating the potential of Aroclor 1242 and hydroxylated PCB congener 30, both with known estrogenic activity, to alter the course of embryonic development of reproductive structures and to affect later reproductive function in American kestrels. Findings from young birds whose parents were exposed indicated that gonadal morphology appeared consistent with the genetic sex of exposed birds; testes of exposed birds showed no difference in size or symmetry when compared to controls. Histological preparations showed very little intersexuality of male testes; females had ovaries that were indistinguishable from controls. Female hatchlings tended to show increased androgen and decreased estrogen in their serum with greater dose of Aroclor; females hatchlings that resulted from injected eggs showed an opposite trend. Analyses in progress include LHRH and catecholamine concentrations in the brain.
Additional Publication Details
Developmental effects of Arochlor 1242 in American kestrels and associated hormone concentrations
Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, annual meeting abstract book