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Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical that is used in a variety of consumer products, such as food storage products and resins that line plastic food and beverage containers. Often, aquatic environments such as rivers and streams become reservoirs for BPA, and fish and turtle habitats are affected. Now, a collaboration of researchers from the University of Missouri, Westminster College, the U.S. Geological Survey and the Saint Louis Zoo have determined that BPA--which mimics estrogen--can alter a turtle's reproductive system and disrupts sexual differentiation. Scientists are concerned findings could indicate harmful effects on environmental and human health.

"Normally, the painted turtle's sex is determined by the temperature of the environment during their development in the egg--cooler temperatures yield more male turtles, while warmer temperatures mean females are more likely to develop," said Dawn Holliday, adjunct assistant professor of pathology and anatomical sciences in the MU School of Medicine and assistant professor of biology at Westminster College in Fulton, Mo. "However, when turtle eggs are exposed to environmental estrogens, their sex is no longer determined by the temperature, but rather by the chemical to which they're exposed."

Researchers applied a liquid form of BPA on hundreds of painted turtle eggs that were then exposed to cooler temperatures, comparable to those needed to produce male turtles. Then, the scientists examined the turtles' sex organs to determine the effects of BPA on their development. They found that the male turtles had developed sex organs with features typically found in females.

Read  More: Sciencedaily

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