NEW HAVEN, Conn. (CBSNewYork) — Research shows exposing frogs to sodium chloride used to de-ice roadways may be changing female frogs into males during early stages of development, according to a study from Yale University and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
According to Yale News, the study showed that the ratio of male to female populations shifted around 10 percent when tadpoles were exposed sodium chloride. The study also found that females exposed to sodium chloride were also smaller in size compared to frogs that were raised under other conditions.
Connecticut State biologist Jenny Dixon says compounds in road salt appears to be the culprit, WCBS 880’s Fran Schneidau reported.
“Those kinds of things can have pretty serious ecological impacts, because you start to skew populations one way or another,” Dixon said. “And certainly, if you end up creating a lot of makes instead of a good mix of males and females, you end up having a population decline.”
According to the study, the “masculinizing” effect is caused by a phenomena called “sex reversal,” where elements, like sodium, bind to receptors and create hormonal effects similar to that of testosterone or estrogen.
Dixon says this could limit the number of frogs able to reproduce, and since frogs eat insects, it could have an even larger environmental impact.
Dixon says that better management of runoff from treated roads could help, since limiting road salt during winter months is not an options.