FAIRFAX, Va. – Fairfax County supervisors want state legislators to explore ways to cut pollutants linked to “intersex” fish found in the Potomac River.
Concerns about the fish, which have both male and female attributes, prompted a congressional hearing last year. Possible causes include endocrine-disrupting contaminants that interfere with the fish’s hormonal balance. The effect on humans is unclear.
Previously, studies found that male bass in District of Columbia waters were growing eggs. Recently, females caught near the Blue Plains sewage treatment plant in southwest D.C. have been found with what seem to be abnormally low levels of estrogen, according to a researcher with the U.S. Geological Survey.
The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors wants the General Assembly to find ways to keep one source of the contaminants, flushed pharmaceuticals, out of Virginia’s waterways.
“There needs to be a look at pharmaceutical take-back,” Supervisor Penelope Gross said.
Such a program would involve the state or other agency collecting excess medicines to ensure they are properly disposed of, though Gross said existing statutes would prevent anyone but police officers from accepting the drugs.
Sen. Patricia S. Ticer, D-Alexandria, who will chair the Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources Committee in the 2008 legislative session, said Friday that the board’s resolution calls on the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality to look at several federal studies on the issue and take a leadership role on the proper disposal of medicine.
“This is something new to the legislature,” she said. “We probably will put in a similar resolution if they (the board) want us to and put that burden on the state staff.”