Organotin compounds have entered the environment because of their use as antifouling agents in marine paints and as heat stabilizers in vinyl chloride polymers. Consequently, they are present in water supplies and foodstuffs that are consumed by humans. In aquatic environments, organotins, and especially tributyltin (TBT), are toxic to marine species at low concentrations. TBT causes imposex in some marine organisms where the female genitalia become masculinized and which renders them infertile, thought to be a consequence of inhibition of aromatase activity leading to increased levels of androgens and decreased levels of estrogens in the tissues. However, it is becoming increasingly apparent that TBT affects many other biochemical processes in mammalian cells. This review will focus on the mechanisms by which TBT effects mammalian biochemical systems and point towards areas where data are needed in order to determine the risks to human health of exposure to TBT.
Keywords: Tributyltin, Reproduction, Development, Toxicology
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