The Los Angeles Times ran a story today about a study that has potential implications for San Diego’s coast.

The study found that treatment plants in Southern California aren’t removing “hormones and hormone-altering” chemicals from sewage before dumping the treated water into coastal waters.

The findings are especially relevant here. As San Diego applies to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for a waiver of federal sewage treatment standards at the Point Loma Wastewater Treatment Plant, it has argued that an upgrade to higher levels of treatment wouldn’t produce any noticeable impact on the marine environment — the fish and other creatures swimming off the Point Loma coast.

But the research suggests otherwise, according to the LAT’s story.

The preliminary findings were part of the most ambitious study to date on the effect of emerging chemical contaminants in coastal oceans. It confirms the findings of smaller pilot studies from 2005 that discovered male fish in the ocean were developing female characteristics, and broadened the scope of the earlier studies by looking at an array of man-made contaminants in widespread tests of seawater, seafloor sediment and hundreds of fish caught off Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties.

The results, outlined by a Southern California toxicologist at a conference in Boston, reveal that a veritable drugstore of pharmaceuticals and beauty products, flame retardants and plastic additives are ending up in the ocean and appear to be working their way up the marine food chain.

Primary treatment, the type used in San Diego, doesn’t take out as much estrogen as secondary treatment, used by Los Angeles’ Hyperion plant in El Segundo. Those plants, if upgraded to tertiary treatment, could remove nearly all of the estrogen, said [Karen Kidd, a biology professor at the University of New Brunswick in Canada].


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