TBT shown to disrupt human hormone system

Scientific findings underline need for urgent global phase-out, says WWF Germany

A team of German scientists has shown for the first time that the anti-fouling chemical tributyl tin (TBT) can affect the human sex hormone system. Dietrich Klingm├╝ller, Dagmar Haidrich and colleagues at the University of Bonn studied the effects of TBT on human brain and placental tissue in the laboratory and found that it inhibited exactly the same hormone system (aromatase) as has been shown in many mollusc species. "These are significant findings," professor Klingm├╝ller told ENDS Daily, "because we didn't know whether TBT had an effect in humans." The team's findings were first revealed at a international endocrinology conference in the USA this summer, before being "rediscovered" last week by the German office of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). In a statement issued on Friday, the group claimed that the research marked the first time that an actual mechanism of chemically induced hormone disruption had been demonstrated in humans. Based on the levels of TBT exposure at which hormonal effects had been observed, the WWF went on, heavy consumers of fish in the Baltic as well as ship painters could be at risk. "The results show how urgent it is to achieve a world-wide ban on TBT," the group added.

Follow Up:
University of Bonn Institute for Clinical Biochemistry, tel: +49 228 287 6513.

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