Peabody’s Science Café launches with look at ‘The Next Frontier in Water Pollution’

Members of the public can learn about current research from a scientist over pizza and beer at Science Café, a new program being launched by Yale’s Peabody Museum of Natural History.

The first Science Café will take place at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, May 8, in BAR, 254 Crown St. Yale ecologist David K. Skelly will talk about the fate and impact of chemicals leaving suburban homes in “Estrogens in Your Backyard: The Next Frontier in Water Pollution.” Admission is free, but those attending must be 21 or older.

Soap, medication, household cleaners, and even the residue on plastic food containers all contain chemical compounds that can be biologically active. Skelly has discovered that frogs living in backyard ponds often have deformities. In fact, he has learned that 20% of suburban male green frogs have testicular oocytes: eggs in their testes. Their sperm quality may be affected as well, he believes.

“While this likely isn’t good for frogs, it may also mean something for us humans,” note the Science Café organizers. “There is an adage that ‘the solution to pollution is dilution.’ The problem in this case is that chemicals acting through hormonal pathways can have effects even at very low concentrations. And there are a startling number of potentially harmful chemicals out there.”