The BP oil spill in the Gulf isn’t the only major water pollution problem. There’s one that’s went on for 30 years: That’s how long two General Electric facilities released about 1.3 million pounds of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) into New York’s Hudson River, devastating and contaminating fish populations. Now, 50 years later, one type of fish–the Atlantic tomcod–has not only survived but appears to be THRIVING in the hostile Hudson environment, thanks to changes in its genes.
Researchers report that the cod living in the Hudson River have undergone a rapid evolutionary change in developing a genetic resistance to PCBs. Researcher Isaac Wirgin says that although this kind of reaction has been seen when insects develop resistance to certain insecticides, and bacteria to antibiotics, "This is really the first demonstration of a mechanism of resistance in any vertebrate population." His team has found that "a single genetic receptor has made this quick evolutionary change possible. “We think of evolution as something that happens over thousands of generations, but here it happened remarkably quickly. If they clean up the river, these fish may need to adapt again to the cleaner environment."
Fish may be adapting, but women are not: A new study finds that PCBs at concentrations found in the general US population are associated with the failure of fertilized embryos to implant in the uterus after in vitro fertilization (IVF). This study may help explain earlier reports of impaired reproduction and increased time to pregnancy among women exposed to PCBs, meaning that women in the New York/New Jersey area may be having a tougher time with this than women in the rest of the country.
We’re glad to report that Nashville, Tennessee is a delightfully unpolluted city, and that’s where we’re holding our June Dreamland Festival. We hope y’all come: You’ll get to meet all your favorite Dreamland hosts IN PERSON, and–what is most important–you get to make new friends with people who have had the same kinds of experiences YOU’VE had (NOTE: Subscribers can still listen to Marla’s show). So don’t wait–space is limited. Get your tickets today!