Where Have All the Boys Gone?
In species from alligators to humans, males are being born less frequently than they were before. Environmental experts are examining the link between man-made chemicals and their role as endocrine disruptors.
Exposure to phthalates, a common class of petrochemicals, can happen through air, water or food. They are contained in cosmetics, cleaning products and consumer goods from wall paper to toys. Some types of phthalates are not only carcinogens, but they are also known endocrine disruptors. Glyphosate, one of the most common and highly used herbicides is found in trace amounts in nearly every food item that is made from genetically modified crops. This endocrine disruptor is especially toxic to human cells in vitro.
Sperm counts worldwide have been cut in half, male infertility has increased, and testicular cancer rates have doubled. These endocrine disruptors interfere with male hormonal system and are playing have havoc with the basic building blocks of male sexual development.
Many central Florida lakes are heavily polluted with a mixture of pesticides, nutrients and fertilizer – many chemicals are old chemicals like DDT that are persistent. Scientists studying alligators in central Florida have found evidence that pesticides have the ability to alter the development of testes as well as lower the testosterone levels of the males similar to those of females. Sexual organs of male alligators nesting in these lakes are 1/3 their normal size and reproduction rate is 90% below average.For several weeks after conception the embryo is neither male nor female. Sex hormones determine whether the fetus will be a boy or a girl. In the 7th week of pregnancy the male reproductive tract begins developing. Chemical exposure is likely behind a 200% increase in male genital birth defects. After birth the infant is further exposed to chemicals in mother’s milk. Blood and urine samples show that contaminates are not only in the child at birth, but they stay in the child.
The falling male birthrate is a global phenomenon. There are 20 heavily industrialized nations where male births have mysteriously declined. Since 1970 this has added up to almost 3,000,000 fewer baby boys. Virtually all of the products linked to male reproductive problems are made from petroleum and of the 80,000 chemicals in use 85% have never undergone testing for the impact on the human body.
Synthetic chemicals may be the threat linked to the survival of our species.