Contaminants are changing the behavior of animals and humans

(ORDO NEWS) — Experts from various fields of science have studied the effects of chemical pollutants on wildlife and assessed the risks of mortality, reproduction and growth of various species.

Medicines, metals and other less obvious chemical contaminants that enter wastewater can alter animal behavior. Researchers have prepared a large paper and roadmap to explore and raise awareness of this issue.

The world’s leading experts have come from a variety of relevant disciplines including environmental toxicology, regulatory bodies and chemical hazard experts. A group of 30 people formed a document and a roadmap to help protect the environment from chemicals that change the behavior of animals and humans.

In their report, the scientists described studies showing how antidepressants and sedatives released into the environment change the behavior of fish and invertebrates. These drugs, like many other drugs, end up in the animal habitat through wastewater. Research also shows us that there are other examples of chemical-induced behavioral changes.

Scientists are concerned not only with obvious contaminants such as pharmaceuticals, but also warn of substances whose effects on the body are not fully understood. These are, for example, chemicals in plastics, detergents, textiles and personal care products. The authors of the document have developed a roadmap according to which they call on policymakers, regulators and environmental leaders to take actions aimed at minimizing the harm of pollutants.

Among the recommendations of the roadmap are the improvement of methods for studying behavioral changes caused by pollutants, the development of new and adaptation of existing toxicity tests to determine the effect of substances on the behavior of living organisms. Scientists also call for the development of an integrative approach to assessing environmental risk, which includes behavior change.

The authors urge to take into account in the assessment not only mortality, but also growth and reproduction. In addition, the researchers talk about the need to improve the reliability of tests, which should take into account the variability of behavioral responses and develop guidelines and trainings for assessing the results of this kind of research.

The work was published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology.

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