Dirty air can damage your lungs, your heart, and even your brain. But, new research shows that pollution may be harming another area of the body as well… an area that many people are reluctant to even talk about.
Dr Shanna Swan’s new book, Count Down, examines “how our modern world is threatening sperm counts, altering male and female reproductive development, and imperilling the future of the human race”.
Dr. Swan, a professor in environmental medicine and public health at the Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, contests that one of the consequences of increased pollution is that human penises are shrinking…. And that’s not even the worst of it!
Pollution represents an existential threat
We already know that pollution has led to a warming planet which puts the very existence of life on earth in peril. But, Dr. Swan has found that it isn’t just severe weather and rising sea levels that are threatening human survival…. It’s the sharp decline in fertility rates.
Why are fertility rates declining?
Phthalates are chemicals that are used to make plastics more flexible. Previous research has shown that when rats are exposed to phthalates in the womb, they were more likely to be born with shrunken genitals. Phthalates have become so widely used that they’re almost impossible to avoid.
About a billion pounds of phthalates are produced every year. They’re found in perfume, hair spray, deodorant, nail polish, insect repellent, carpeting, vinyl flooring, the coating on wires and cables, shower curtains, raincoats, plastic toys, as well as much of our food and water. In fact, almost everything in our modern world that we inhale, ingest, or absorb into our skin contains phthalates. They are so widespread that a recent study found that 95 percent of us have detectable levels of phthalates in our urine.
The danger of phthalates is that they mimic the hormone estrogen which disrupts the body’s natural production of hormones. Researchers have linked this disruption to an array of complications in human sexual development.
One of these complications is a shorter anogenital distance – something that is correlated with penile volume. Basically, it means that human penises are shrinking.
Have any other studies confirmed Dr. Swan’s results?
Yes. Dr. Swan’s work was based on a series of peer-reviewed research studies. Prior research has shown a number of disturbing examples of how phthalates interfere with human sexuality.
• In 2009, a small Taiwanese study on humans showed that phthalates passed from mother to fetus through the placenta affect female babies, sometimes resulting in abnormal sexual development.
• Boys who are exposed to higher levels of certain types of phthalates in the womb may show less masculine behavior (measured by playing with trucks and play fighting) than boys who are exposed to lower levels.
• Pregnant women exposed to phthalates in the workplace were found to be two to three times more likely to deliver boys with the reproductive birth defect known as hypospadias.
• A 2009 study determined that phthalate exposure correlated with premature breast development in young Taiwanese girls.
• A 2007 study found that higher levels of phthalates detected in the urine of adult males was associated with increased waist circumference and insulin resistance.
Dr Swan believes that one of the most concerning results of this rapidly decreasing fertility rate is that most men will be unable to produce viable sperm by 2045.
How can we avoid Phthalates?
Avoid scented products: If a fragranced product doesn’t say “phthalate-free,” chances are that it contains them. Avoid purchasing any products that don’t specifically note that they don’t contain phthalates.
Don’t use old toys: In 2009 several types of phthalates were banned from children’s toys, teethers, bottles, and feeding products. But toys that were made before then are still likely to contain the dangerous chemical.
Pay attention to codes: Look for plastic with recycling codes 1, 2, or 5 to make sure that they’re phthalate-free.
Eat organic food. Phthalates are used in pesticides and are also found in sewage sludge that is used in conventional agriculture. Organic foods are required to be phthalate-free.
Purchase an air purifier. To avoid breathing in air that contains phthalate vapors or dust contaminated with phthalate particles, use a high-quality air purifier with a combination of true HEPA and activated carbon filters.