Are chemical contaminants in the foods we eat, in the products we put into and on our bodies and in our lakes and rivers causing birth defects in humans?
|Louis J. Gillette Jr.
Louis J. Guillette Jr., an internationally recognized reproductive biologist who has spent 25 years
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studying sexually stunted alligators and other wildlife from polluted waters in Florida and around the world, says a growing body of research shows those chemicals – including trace amounts often found in lakes and rivers — do cause birth defects, both in animals and humans.
On Sept. 14, Guillette, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the Medical University of South Carolina, will deliver the third in a series of lectures sponsored by the Freshwater Society and the University of Minnesota’s College of Biological Sciences.
Guillette’s lecture, aimed at a general audience, will be titled: Contaminants, Water and Our Health: New Lessons from Wildlife.
A panel of Minnesota experts on environmental contaminants will appear with Guillette.
The lecture will be at 7 p.m. in the theater of the St. Paul Student Center on the University of Minnesota’s campus. The lecture, funded by an endowment honoring former university president Malcolm Moos, is free and open to the public. But seating is limited, and registration is required. To register, click here.
Guillette has served as a science adviser to many U.S. and foreign agencies and testified before Congress about environmental health issues, recently joined the faculty of the Medical University of South Carolina after 25 years at the University of Florida.
At Florida, he studied a number of animal species – especially alligators – in ecosystems contaminated by agricultural and industrial chemicals. Many of those chemicals have been found to be endocrine-disrupting compounds that interfere with the animals’ hormone systems.
In field studies Guillette found evidence of infertility and birth defects involving both the male and female sex organs of alligators. In laboratory experiments, Guillette and researchers working with him exposed alligator eggs to the same chemicals and found the same abnormalities in hatchlings.
In addition to his new position at the Medical University of South Carolina, Guillette has an endowed professorship in marine genomics at the Hollings Marine Laboratory in Charleston, S.C. He also is a professor at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Chevy Chase, Md.
The lecture series is part of the Freshwater Society’s 2010 – The Year of Water celebration. The first two lecturers in the series were Robert Glennon, a University of Arizona law professor who has written two books on water sustainability, and Hedrick Smith, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and film maker who produced “Poisoned Waters,” a Public Broadcasting System “Frontline” documentary.