Times Beach was labeled a dioxin ghost town. The buildings were bulldozed, and all that was left was a grassy and woody area enclosed by a barbed-wire-topped chain-link fence. The evacuation has since been viewed by some scientists (including the person who ordered the evacuation) as a government overreaction to a perceived dioxin hazard. Following clean up, trees were planted and today Times Beach is part of Route 66 State Park and a bird refuge. The controversy about the toxicity of dioxin is not over. Some environmental scientists argue that the regulation of dioxin must be tougher, whereas the industries producing the chemical argue that the dangers of exposure are exaggerated. HAAs are also POPs. An increasing body of scientific evidence indicates that certain chemicals in the environment, known as hormonally active agents (HAAs), may cause developmental and reproductive abnormalities in animals, including humans.
HAAs include a wide variety of chemicals, such as some herbicides, pesticides, phthalates (compounds found in many chlorine-based plastics), and PCBs. Evidence in support of the hypothesis that HAAs are interfering with the growth and development of organisms comes from studies of wildlife in the field and laboratory studies of human diseases, such as breast, prostate, and ovarian cancer, as well as abnormal testicular development and thyroid-related abnormalities.
Studies of wildlife include evidence that alligator populations in Florida that were exposed to pesticides, such as DDT, have genital abnormalities and low egg production. Pesticides have also been linked to reproductive problems in several species of birds, including gulls, cormorants, brown pelicans, falcons, and eagles. Studies are ongoing on Florida panthers; they apparently have abnormal ratios of sex hormones, and this may be affecting their reproductive capability.