Common chemical ‘threat to male fertility’ – NYT blogs

PVC pipes containing phthalates. Source: NYT blogs

Report by Deborah Blum in NYT blogs relays research findings that show disturbing effects from exposure to chemicals on male fertility. Blum writes:

To study the impact of everyday chemicals on fertility, federal researchers recently spent four years tracking 501 couples as they tried to have children. One of the findings stood out: while both men and women were exposed to known toxic chemicals, men seemed much more likely to suffer fertility problems as a result.
The gender gap was particularly wide when it came to phthalates, those ubiquitous compounds used to make plastics more flexible and cosmetic lotions slide on more smoothly. Women who wore cosmetics often had higher levels of phthalates in their bodies, as measured by urinalysis. But only in their male partners were phthalate levels correlated with infertility.

Included in the report are suggestions for limiting exposure to phthalates, because, “Unlike heavy metals like cadmium and lead that tend to accumulate in the body,” phthalates tend to pass through quickly.

Report continues with a quote from Dr. Tracey Woodruff, “Director of the program on reproductive health and the environment at the University of California, San Francisco.”

“The W.H.O. called them ‘pseudopersistent’ in one report,” Dr. Woodruff said, because continued exposure keeps phthalates in the body. But here’s the silver lining: the transient nature of these compounds also means that consumers can take fairly simple measures to reduce their phthalate levels.
One is to read the labels on cosmetics and other personal care products and to choose those without phthalates. Another is to be cautious with plastic food containers, and to avoid using them to heat food and drink, as the phthalates in them may get transferred to what you consume.
“These compounds leach from plastics,” Dr. Buck Louis said. “You can switch to glass for drinking. You can cook your frozen dinners on paper plates.”
Studies have shown that these kinds of actions do make a difference; experiments have found measurably lower levels within several days in people who make these changes.

Read more, click here.

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