Lori Zimmer

New Study Links Water Pollution to Smaller Penis Size in Otters

by , 02/25/13

green design, eco design, sustainable design, Cardiff University Otter Project, EDC, endocrine disrupting chemicals, Chemicals Health and Environment, otter penis size, otter sexual health, undescended testicles

A new study in Wales has uncovered a disturbing connection between pollution and shrinking penis size in otters. The report, from the Cardiff University Otter Project and Chemicals Health and Environment Department, found that chemicals present in both the environment and the food chain could be altering the hormones of the water mammal, causing a smaller penis bone. Aside from affecting the future spawn of otters, the scientists also worry that these ever-present chemicals could have serious effects on other mammals.


green design, eco design, sustainable design, Cardiff University Otter Project, EDC, endocrine disrupting chemicals, Chemicals Health and Environment, otter penis size, otter sexual health, undescended testicles

The new study has found that the sex organs of male otters are significantly decreasing in weight, and in actual size of the penis bone. In addition, more otters have shown a presence of undescended testicles and cysts within their sexual organs, a side effect of endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDC).

Spending most of their lives in rivers, otters are more connected to their environment, and to the pollutants that are present in those waters. Their health is directly related to the health of the aquatic systems in a given area. Persistent organic pollutants were banned in the 1970s, which showed a growth in otter population after that time. But although these chemicals are no longer in use, other EDC’s have been introduced in modern times, and their effects on wildlife has yet to be monitored.

The health of otters is not the only concern in this study, but of male sexual health across the species. The presence of endocrine disrupting chemicals in the water and environment will affect humans as well, and the study questions the link with EDCs and the increasing number of human males with undescended testicles, low sperm count and malformed genitals.

Via Daily Mail

Images ©Wikimedia Commons

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1 Comment

  1. Bob Jensen March 2, 2013 at 1:25 pm

    The phenomenon has already been seen in humans. Klinefelter Syndrome is the fastest growing genetic syndrome and occurs in 1 in 500 – 1,000 newborn males.

    http://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/klinefelter-syndrome

    ‘Affected individuals typically have small testes that do not produce as much testosterone as usual. Testosterone is the hormone that directs male sexual development before birth and during puberty. A shortage of testosterone can lead to delayed or incomplete puberty, breast enlargement (gynecomastia), reduced facial and body hair, and an inability to have biological children (infertility). Some affected individuals also have genital differences including undescended testes (cryptorchidism), the opening of the urethra on the underside of the penis (hypospadias), or an unusually small penis (micropenis)’.

    Klinefelter syndrome is not inherited and always caused by an extra X chromosome. About half the cases are caused by an XY sperm mutation and half the cases are caused by an XX egg mutation producing the XXY genotype.

    McCauliffe et al found that increasing levels of PCB congeners as measured in blood produced increased frequency of XY sperm in males recruited from a fertility clinic:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3339457/

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