Widepread Chemicals Affecting Human Sperm, Infertility

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Common Dreams

Widepread Chemicals Affecting Human Sperm, Infertility

New study finds "direct link between exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals from industrial products and adverse effects on human sperm function."

Photo: Nancy L. Stockdale/cc/flickr

New research has linked hormone-altering chemicals found in everyday products including soap, sunscreen and toys to male infertility.

A team of German and Danish researchers studied nearly 100 of these chemicals, called endocrine-disruptors, and found that about one-third of them interfered with human sperm function in ways that could impair egg fertilization.

These chemicals include the antibacterial Triclosan, used in some toothpastes and other personal care products, and 4-methylbenzylidene camphor (4-MBC), found in some sunscreens and deodorants.

Endocrine disruptors have previously been linked to a range of other health problems including cancer, neurodevelopmental delays and other altered reproductive functions.

"For the first time, we have shown a direct link between exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals from industrial products and adverse effects on human sperm function," Niels E. Skakkebaek, professor and leader of the Danish team, said in a statement.

The team's findings were published Monday in EMBO reports.

The Environmental Working Group, an environmental health research and advocacy organization, well-known for its shoppers' guide to produce with the most pesticides, produced last fall a "Dirty Dozen List of Endocrine Disruptors" to help consumers avoid what the group says are some of the worst hormone-disrupting chemicals.