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UK and Japanese scientists working on endocrine disruption will exchange information on existing research and identify possible areas for co-operation and collaboration.

Welcoming the partnership, UK Environment Minister Michael Meacher said: “Our joint efforts with Japan will result in improved understanding of endocrine disruption, which will be of benefit to the whole international community. It will provide the basis for timely action to eliminate risks to the environment.”

Research carried out on fish in UK rivers and estuaries has shown that effects related to endocrine disruption are occurring, although the impacts on fish populations are unknown. In some cases steroids in sewage effluent have been implicated as the cause, in others the cause is unknown.

UK Government-funded research is underway to improve understanding of the impacts and the causal agents.

UK research has also shown that marine molluscs are particularly affected by tri-butyl tin (TBT)-based antifoulant paint used on ships and boats. Use of these antifoulants has been banned on small boats and international efforts are currently underway to ban their use on all boats.

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