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Wildlife impacts of chemicals

Ecosystems all over the world are now contaminated with a cocktail of man-made chemicals.

CHEM Trust is particularly worried about several potentially hazardous chemicals, especially those that are persistent, bioaccumulativ­e or those which can disrupt hormones.

There is not one ocean or continent from the tropics to the once-pristine polar regions that is not contaminated with a toxic cocktail of many different man-made compounds.The pages in this section illustrate some examples of the known or suspected effects of chemical contaminants in wildlife.allicrocs

Hormone (or endocrine) disrupting chemicals are very worrying because even at extremely low doses they can disrupt the normal workings of the reproductive, immune, nervous and other hormonally controlled systems. They can do this by mimicking natural hormones or blocking their action, or altering the breakdown or synthesis of the body’s own hormones.

Some pesticides and flame retardants are persistent, bioaccumulative or hormone disrupting. Similarly, chemicals with these worrisome properties may be found in many consumer products including certain stain repellents, cosmetics, personal care products and plastics.

CHEM Trust reports on wildlife impacts:

Frogs at risk and possible implications for humans

Why EU chemicals legislation needs updating to address chemical that damage the immune system highlights serious concerns for the health of frogs (amphibians) in the UK.Scientific research suggests that exposure to man-madfroge chemicals in our environment may be playing an important role in disease because some chemicals can weaken the immune system and increase susceptibility to infections and disease.There are likely to be implications for human health too.

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Effects of Pollutants on the Reproductive Health of Male Vertebrate Wildlife – Males Under Threat

This report shows that male fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals have been harmed by chemicals in the environment. Widespread feminisation or de-masculiboppic1nisation of male vertebrate wildlife is highlighted. These findings add to mounting worries about the role of hormone disrupting or so-called ‘gender-bending’ chemicals in the environment, and the implications for human health.

Persistent organic pollutants and indicators of otter health: other factors at play?

This report highlights serious concerns for the health of otters in the UK.Otters are one of our best loved species and research indicates that they may not be in the best of reproductive health. This raises the question as to whether modern chemicals, particularlyott_pic endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs – hormone disruptors), could be to blame.

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Why Mollusc Toxicity Tests for Endocrine Disruptors and Other Chemicals Are Needed

  • CHEM Trust briefing November 2009

Non-animal test methods can pick out some chemicals with hormone disrupting properties, but not all. A test method utilising molluscs should be seen both as a vital tool to identify chemicals which could harm these important creatures and to potentially identify some hormone disrupting chemicals implicated in disorders in other animals, including man.