By Joanna Karpasea-Jones
Common household chemicals and medicines have been found to reduce male fertility, cause female reproductive disorders, obesity, cancer and immune failure.
A new report by the European Environment Agency has linked the chemical industry with declining rates of fertility in humans, stating that reproductive and developmental problems in humans have increased in line with the increasing use of chemicals. Simply put, our love affair with chemicals and industry is killing us.
Semen quality in European countries is poor and around 40% of European men studied have impaired fertility.
Aside from nearly half of all men having fertility issues, the same pattern has been seen in species of wildlife. They too are having reproductive and endocrine (hormonal) disorders due to a multitude of chemicals in common use.
Endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDC’s) are thought to affect male fetuses reproductive developmental during pregnancy, meaning the problems start before they are even born.
Adverse Health Effects
Adverse health effects that are increasing are:
- Genital malformations in baby boys
- Poor quality sperm reaching crisis levels in many European countries
- Earlier onset of puberty in young girls
- Breast cancer, testicular cancer and prostate cancer
- Endocrine (hormonal) disorders in children
- Metabolic disorders in children, such as type 2 diabetes and obesity
- Thyroid cancers – in France alone Thyroid cancer has increased by a staggering 155.6%
- Congenital hyperthyroidism
- Neurodevelopmental disorders such as attention deficit disorder (ADD) and autism are much more common than 20 years ago
- Women’s reproductive problems such as fibroids, endometriosis and polycystic ovarian syndrome – it is now known that exposure to estrogen and estrogenic EDC’s can cause all of these conditions.
What Chemicals are Causing Problems?
Dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene (DDE) and DDT – pesticides. Pollution of the environment by pesticides can result in skewed sex ratios, lowered levels of breeding and eggshell thinning in birds, leading to nesting failure.
Organochlorine pesticides – there is an association between blood levels of OC and later development of breast cancer.
Estrogens – Estrogenic contamination of meat and fish. Eating contaminated meat and fish can result in early periods for girls. Polybrominated biphenyl (PBB) also had this effect. There is also concern that the contraceptive pill is polluting the water supply and reducing male fertility. Women who take the pill have higher levels of estrogen in their urine. This hormone loaded urine goes into the sewerage system and then into the water supply where it is consumed by men and it then affects their ability to father children. Peter Ainsworth, Shadow Environment Secretary, said a danger to human fertility could not be ruled out. Other pharmaceuticals also contain hormones and chemicals.
Bisphenol-A (BPA) – plastic. BPA can have estrogenic effects – this can cause an over-signalling of insulin and insulin secretion and provoke increased insulin resistance and cause type two diabetes in children.
Diethylstilbestrol (DES), polychlorinated dibenzo?p?dioxins (PCDDs), PCBs and dibenzofurans (PCDFs) – these all disrupt the immune system of both humans and animals.
Perfluoridated Chemicals – in food packaging, pesticides, insecticides, herbicides, wood preservative, water repellent. It is also in stain resistant clothing and carpets, foaming agents. The fluoride part is also present in toothpastes and in the drinking water supply of many countries – these damage immune function.
Household chemicals – in cleaners, stain resistant furniture and cosmetics.
It is the accumulative exposure to all these various chemicals in our everyday environment that is causing an epidemic of health problems and infertility and causing a wave of neurologically disabled children. Never before in the history of the world has man been exposed to so many chemicals and hormone disruptors at once.
“Scientific research gathered over the last few decades shows us that endocrine disruption is a real problem, with serious effects on wildlife, and possibly people”, EEA Executive Director Jacqueline McGlade said. “It would be prudent to take a precautionary approach to many of these chemicals until their effects are more fully understood.”
What Can I Do To Reduce My Exposure?
Drink filtered or bottled water – to limit your exposure to estrogens and fluoride in water
Get fluoride free toothpaste
Use a method of contraception that isn’t hormonal – such as condom, cap, copper IUD, natural family planning, cyclebeads or Persona
Check that your medicines don’t contain any harmful ingredients
Only buy cosmetics with natural ingredients
Get rid of household cleaners – good old fashioned white vinegar is an effective enough cleaner for most jobs
Don’t put stain guard on your carpets
Don’t wear clothes that are stain or crease resistant
Limit the amount of plastic in your home – swap those plastic children’s toys for wooden or metal ones, don’t put hot drinks in plastic containers etc
Eat only organic food – and limit your consumption of meat and ocean fish (if you eat fish, organically farmed is a safer bet).
- The impacts of endocrine disrupters on wildlife, people and their environments – The Weybridge+15 (1996–2011) report. Web. 4th June 2012.
- Increase in cancers and fertility problems may be caused by household chemicals and pharmaceuticals, Press Release, European Environment Agency, 10th May 2012.
- Male fertility fears over pollution in water supply, The Independent, 17th March 2002.