“How life emerged remains a mystery, but we know what it is, and that it's fragile in the face of changes to the environment.” – OER Project
There is a group of chemicals that are present in hundreds of consumer products. Phthalates are used to make plastic soft and flexible or to dissolve materials. They also disrupt hormones. Ongoing research reveals that exposure to phthalates is damaging our reproductive health, disrupting human development, reducing worldwide birth rates, and leading toward mass sterility.
Phthalates are now found in everything from hair sprays, soaps and lotions to garden hoses, plastic packaging, medical supplies, boots, shower curtains, and vinyl flooring. In fact, it is becoming difficult to find products that don’t contain phthalates. After testing the urine of over 2,600 people, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed that “phthalate exposure is widespread in the U.S. population” (CDC.gov, 2021).
We breathe phthalate particles from our environment. It is absorbed through our skin from items we touch or wear. We also eat or drink foods that have come in contact with phthalates. Milk, for example, is exposed to plastic tubing containing phthalates many times in the production process.
Human fertility, sperm count, and testosterone levels have been declining by 1% per year since 1973. At the same time, testicular cancer and miscarriage have risen by the same amount. The end result is that fertility rates are down worldwide and continuing to drop.
In fact, at least half of the countries on the planet now have fertility rates of 2.1 births per woman- a figure that is considered below the population replacement level (bbc.com, 2020).
Are Phthalates the Culprit?
This sudden drop in fertility rates has occurred too quickly to be explained by genetics. Therefore, the culprit must be environmental and phthalates are the smoking gun. Sperm count, testosterone levels and fertility are all controlled by the hormones. Therefore, it only makes sense that a prevalent hormone-disrupting chemical like phthalate would be the culprit.
Studies have demonstrated that when a mother is exposed to these chemicals in early pregnancy, the baby is predisposed to experience reproductive failures or limitations in adulthood.
Preventing and Healing Phthalate Damage
While phthalate syndrome threatens the continuation of the human species, the solution could be simpler than you think. One more thing we know about phthalates is that they are non-persistent chemicals. They are eliminated from your body quickly—in just four to six hours. If we stopped using phthalates, the damage would stop and reproductive health could be restored to future generations. Many organizations are now fighting to ban widespread phthalate use.
In the meantime, you can take steps to protect yourself and your family by avoiding phthalates as much as possible. Begin by consuming unprocessed foods that are prepared at home. Remember, it is important to reduce our exposure to plastic food packaging.
Review your household and personal care products and replace those containing phthalate with additive-free, unscented versions. Look around your home and consider replacing plastic containers, toys, or cooking utensils with natural alternatives. Read labels, do the research, and protect your health.
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What To Remember:
Phthalates are hormone-disrupting chemicals that are prevalent in hundreds of products.They have been linked to reduced fertility, testosterone, sperm count—and decreased birth rates.Reducing exposure is the best way to prevent and reverse the effects.
A Common Chemical Is Endangering Reproductive Health
References:Gross, Liza. (August, 2020). This Chemical Can Impair Fertility, but It’s Hard to Avoid. NYTimes.com: www.nytimes.com/2020/08/25/parenting/fertility-pregnancy-phthalates-toxic-chemicals.htmlCenters for Disease Control and Prevention. (April, 2021). Phthalates Factsheet. CDC.gov: www.cdc.gov/biomonitoring/Phthalates_FactSheet.htmlStarkman, Evan. (October, 2021) What Are Phthalates? WebMD.com: www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/features/what-are-phthalates