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Chemicals In Everyday Products Turning Boys Into Girls?

Posted: 11/11/09 12:12 PM ET

As initially posted on Healthy Child Healthy World.

A new report from the Danish Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), highlights the critical risks facing toddlers from gender bending chemicals in everyday products. Chemicals like phthalates (found in PVC and fragrances), parabens (found in lotions and sunscreens), and pesticides are increasingly being linked to hormone disruption - and two year olds have more in their blood than previous generations.

What does it mean?

• Today's boys have less sperm. Sperm counts are falling so fast that young men are about half as fertile as their fathers (and have about one-third the amount of sperm per milliliter as a hamster if you care to compare.)

• More boys are playing like girls. The DEFRA report highlights research from Rotterdam's Erasmus University that found that boys whose mothers were exposed to certain hormone disruptors were more likely to dress up in girl's clothes and play with dolls and tea sets.

• Fewer boys are being born. According to coverage of the report in the Telegraph "A Canadian Indian community living on ancestral lands at the eastern tip of Lake Huron, hemmed in by one of the biggest agglomerations of chemical factories on earth, gives birth to twice as many girls as boys. It's the same around Seveso in Italy, contaminated with dioxins from a notorious accident in the 1970s, and among Russian pesticide workers. And there's more evidence from places as far apart as Israel and Taiwan, Brazil and the Arctic."

• Boys' unmentionables are getting smaller. Scientists at the University of Rochester in New York discovered that boys born to women exposed to phthalates had smaller penises and other feminization of the genitals.

Many of the chemicals being criticized have received their fair share of criticism in the past. What's new about this report is the emphasis on "chemical cocktails" - or the fact that these chemicals mixed together are far worse than they are alone. And, this is how we are exposed to them - in mixtures from our everyday environments - not isolated like they are often tested in the laboratory. Beyond the machismo these occurrences may invoke in many a male, the overwhelming concern is the threat to reproduction.

What can you do?

Reduce your exposure to hormone disruptors like pesticides, plasticizers, and chemically-laden personal care products.

• Eat organic food, whenever possible. Some of the offending chemicals mentioned in this report are stored in fat. So if you eat meat, choose low-fat cuts and remove excess fat. Also, choose low-fat dairy products.


• Avoid using plastic containers, especially for food and beverages. Use glass or stainless steel instead.


Find safer personal care products. Cut back on how many and how much you use. And, maybe even try making your own (simple olive oil makes a wonderful skin moisturizer).


Avoid using pesticides. Don't give pests food or shelter. Clean up spills immediately, fix leaks, repair cracks, and mend torn screens. Yank weeds or pour boiling water on them instead of resorting to herbicides.

• Find safer toys, teethers and clothes for your family. Help friends out, too by sharing some handy, pocket shopping guides.

 

Follow Christopher Gavigan on Twitter: www.twitter.com/healthy_child