Tyrone Hayes: Environmental health is public health. If you’re altering the environment in such a way that wildlife can’t live in it anymore, that amphibians are declining globally, for example, then you’re creating an environment that we won’t be able to live in, either.
That’s biologist Tyrone Hayes, of the University of California at Berkeley. He sees a close connection between the health of frogs and the health of humans. Hayes studies how pesticides interact with hormones.
Tyrone Hayes: The hormones are the same. So the same chemical that will cause a male frog to make estrogen, and become a hermaphrodite, can cause excess estrogen production in humans, which can lead to breast cancer.
Hayes’ research was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. His study showed that these chemicals originate in agricultural pesticides, which run off into the water supply.
Tyrone Hayes: So the frog is getting it because of swimming, drinking, living in the water. A human would get it by being exposed as an agriculture worker or factory worker, but also by drinking the water in the home.
Hayes is concerned that people at high risk for exposure to chemicals may be the least aware of the health impacts.
Tyrone Hayes: The people who are most impacted – the workers, agricultural workers and factory workers – are less likely to have access to information and health care. So it’s really important that we get that information out.
Our thanks to:
Department of Integrative Biology
University of California
Michael Brennan interviews scientists, serves as a host for both the EarthSky 90-second podcasts and EarthSky 22, and oversees the EarthSky Studio. He uses his recording expertise to help create EarthSky audio and video science interviews in both English and Spanish, making sure that our audio’s technical quality exceeds everyone’s expectations. He is a member of the EarthSky Management Team.