Daily exposure to multiple chemicals linked to decreases in sperm quality
The harmful effects that toxic chemicals have on male fertility are well documented in scientific literature. Dr Shanna Swan’s book ‘Count Down’, released last year, found that a man today has half the number of sperm his grandfather had. And a new scientific paper, published in Environment International this June, adds important knowledge on this topic.
Exposure to well known endocrine disrupting chemicals such as bisphenols and phthalates have been linked to decreasing sperm quality, but exposure to these chemicals individually does not seem to explain the dramatic decline in sperm quality. The new European study is the first to find that our common exposures to mixtures of these chemicals and dioxins, paracetamol and others, are already at levels that exceed those considered to be safe to prevent deteriorations of semen quality – by a very large margin.
The research focused on assessing exposure to chemicals known to affect semen quality by including 29 chemicals in total. Nine of these chemicals have been found together in human urine samples at levels exceeding what is judged to be an acceptable exposure, in some individuals by 100-fold! Bisphenol A, a chemical CHEM Trust has highlighted as highly problematic for years, made a strong contribution to the overall risk. However, the scientists conclude that the elimination of exposure to this substance would still leave the ‘mixture risk’ at unacceptably high levels.
The ’mixture effect’ or ‘cocktail effect’ was the subject of a new CHEM Trust report published this year. It highlighted other serious environmental and health impacts that can occur from exposure to mixtures of chemicals in daily life, including the impact on brain development in foetuses and children.
CHEM Trust is calling for chemical regulation that stops assessing the safety of chemicals in isolation and implement measures that take into account the reality of our exposure. The EU Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability is an ambitious plan to reform EU chemicals policy and legislation. CHEM Trust is busy to help put it into practice, demanding better protection of public health and the environment from harmful chemicals, including measures to tackle ‘the cocktail effect’.
Read more about our latest work.