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Fertility rates in the U.S. are at an unusually low point — globally, research suggests that over the past 50 years, sperm counts have dropped by 50%.
Environmental exposures in the home are harming men’s reproductive health and sperm counts, in addition to causing asthma attacks, allergic reactions, and Toxicant-Induced Loss of Tolerance (TILT), researchers say.
Digesting microplastics─specifically diethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP), polychlorinated biphenyl 153 (PCB153), and bisphenol A (BPA)─showed notable effects on DNA fragmentation and sperm motility in various testing on male dogs and humans.
“[This data is an] indicator that there is something very wrong in our modern environment or lifestyle,” Dr. Hagai Levine, head of the environmental health track at the Hebrew University-Hadassah School of Public Health in Israel, told the Guardian. “We need to identify what the causes are and fix them. Otherwise, it’s dangerous to our future and may be irreversible.”
Tests and Results
Last March, researchers from Nottingham University published their findings, which connected chemical exposure and adverse health effects, in Nature.
“Data presented in this paper are significant because we conclusively demonstrate that a selected DEHP and PCB153, at concentrations relevant to environmental exposure, reduce dog sperm motility and increase DNA fragmentation in vitro,” the study states. “In the human, our data showing reduced motility and increased DNA fragmentation are indicative of similar sensitivities to these chemicals in both species. Furthermore, when the chemicals were combined and co-incubated with dog or human sperm, the overall impact on motility or DNA fragmentation was dependent on the concentration ratio.”
Depending on the levels of exposure to these chemicals, reproductive health was impacted, causing researchers to conclude that these chemicals could be one of the reasons fertility rates are at historic lows.
Most plastics companies phased out these chemicals from production in the 1970s, according to the Guardian.
However, the substances do persist in the environment, and researchers say more research is needed to understand how modern-day chemicals are affecting reproductive health at-large.
Fertility in Latinos
Latino men can also face reproductive health risks from being on the job, especially those working in the agricultural industry.
“Men from semi-rural and agricultural regions produced lower sperm concentration and motility than their urban counterparts resulting in disparities in semen parameters throughout the continental United States,” a 2017 study from Stanford states.
While other research shows Black men have the lowest rates of sperm mobility, the numbers for all race groups were down.
Overall, one standout note from various studies identified a lack of fertility research being conducted on monitories. Most data from these studies used samples from White men.
Historically, minorities have faced bias in medical studies and research.
Men wanting to take steps to avoid this problem can limit their exposure to certain chemicals, such as BPA, according to De-Kun Li, a reproductive and perinatal epidemiologist at the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in Oakland, Calif.
“You have to wonder, if BPA does impact the semen, what else can it impact,” Li told the Scientific American.
Learn more about how chemical exposure can impact health, including the development of exposure, could be experiencing Toxicant-Induced Loss of Tolerance (TILT). People who are TILTed can suffer adverse mental, emotional, and physical consequences.
Those who would like to discover more about potential TILT chemical triggers can take Hoffman TILT’s BREESI & QEESI tests. These assessments will give an overview of the harmful substances in one’s environment.
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Editor’s Note: This article is part of a collaboration between Salud America! and the Hoffman Toxicant-Induced Loss of Tolerance (TILT) program at UT Health- San Antonio. To find out if you are TILTed due to exposure to everyday foods, chemicals, or drugs, take a self-assessment or learn more about TILT.