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Widespread chemical contaminants stunt growth of amphibians

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A series of synthetic chemicals widely used in household products, food packaging and clothing have a significant effect on the development of frogs, even at low doses, according to a Purdue University study.

Per/polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) are man-made chemicals used to make products stain resistant, waterproof and nonstick, and are present in foams used to fight fires. A U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study from 2007 showed that some PFASs were present in 98 percent of blood samples collected from American adults and children for the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. According to the CDC, scientific studies on the impact of PFASs on human health are inconclusive.

Maria Sepúlveda, professor of ecology and natural systems and associate head of research in Purdue’s Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, is leading studies to determine how these chemicals affect amphibians. Her first study on the northern leopard frog shows that PFASs at levels as low as 10 micrograms per liter of water could stunt the animal’s development by two stages over a 30-day period. Frogs introduced to low levels of the chemicals were around 10 percent smaller than a control.

In this study, northern leopard frog tadpoles were exposed to 10, 100 and 1,000 micrograms of PFASs per liter of water for 30 days. Contaminated sites reach into the hundreds of micrograms per liter, including parts of Lake Ontario (121), parts of the Mississippi River (226) and a well at Wurtsmith Air Force Base in Michigan (120), which all contain a PFAS called perfluorooctanesulfonate (PFOS).

At each level, including the lowest, tadpole development was stunted. That could be a serious issue for an animal’s safety.

Continue reading at Purdue University.

Image Source: Purdue University.