“THE health effects of air pollution imperil human lives. This fact is well-documented.”
American politician Eddie Bernice Johnson in the above quote highlights the danger pollution poses to our environment.
It not only affects the air we breathe but it also can affect parts of our bodies, such as the 4-5.
According to Sky News, 4-5s are shrinking and genitals are becoming malformed because of pollution, an environmental scientist has warned in a new book detailing the challenges facing human reproduction.
According to Dr Shanna Swan, humanity is facing a crisis in fertility rates as a result of phthalates, a chemical used when manufacturing plastics, that impacts the hormone-producing endocrine system – a complex network of glands and organs.
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In her book titled Count Down, she examines how our modern world is threatening sperm count, altering male and female reproductive development, and putting the future of the human race in danger.
Dr Swan’s research began by examining phthalate syndrome, something observed in rats, which found that when foetuses were exposed to the chemical they were likely to be born with shrunken genitals.
She further discovered that male human babies who had been exposed to the phthalates in the womb had a shorter anogenital distance – something that correlated with penile volume.
The chemical has an industrial use in making plastics more flexible, but Dr Swan says it is being transmitted into toys and foods and subsequently harms human development.
According to experts, phthalates mimic the hormone oestrogen and thus disrupt the natural production of hormones in the human body, which researchers have linked to interference in sexual development in infants and behaviours in adults.
One study published in 2017 found that sperm levels among men in Western countries had dropped by more than 50% over the past four decades after examining 185 studies involving close to 45 000 healthy men.
Dr Swan believes that the rapidly decreasing fertility rate means that most men will be unable to produce viable sperm by 2045.