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| Human World on Feb 20, 2009

Tyrone Hayes outlines the link between frog health and human health

This biologist sees a close connection between the health of frogs and the health of humans. Hayes studies how pesticides interact with hormones.

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:
Tyrone Hayes
Department of Integrative Biology
University of California
Berkeley, CA