Have you heard about the CBC documentary called The Disappearing Male? A completely fascinating study with experts contributing to the idea that the thousands of man-made chemicals produced in the last 100 years are contributing to boys suffering from a decrease in sperm production, sperm abnormalities, cancer, and genital deformities. As a mother of two boys, I was totally glued to this 45 minute documentary. I took notes throughout the film and would like to share the many things I learned. This topic is so interesting because the 2 chemicals the documentary focused on are BPA and Phthalates – two chemicals I too believe need more attention than only being banned from baby bottles. There are some scary statistics and harsh realities with watching this video, that I really believe all parents should watch. Your awareness of how much plastic affects your health will be heightened. To watch the two minute trailer click here. Canadians, to watch the 45 min film click here. Canadians and Americans, to watch the film in 5 chopped up clips, here is the link on YouTube. I learned so much information, I’m spreading this topic over two Mommy Footprint articles ~ I feel so strongly about this topic and don’t want to overload with too much information within one article.
Part 1: What Is Happening To Boy’s Reproduction and The Human Experiment At Aamjiwnaang
According to the documentary The Disappearing Male, there is a growing body of evidence that something is wrong with the sexual health of human males worldwide. In the last 50 years, sperm counts have been cut in half ~ scientists believe that boys today, produce 1/2 the sperm their fathers did. Accompanied with increased rates of male infertility and testicular cancer more than doubled in recent years and why? Scientists believe that man-made synthetic chemicals are to blame. In the last 60 years, thousands of man-made compounds have been produced and most have not been tested for how they affect humans. Examples of these chemicals are BPA, produced to make plastic hard and phthalates to make plastic soft. It’s not only human scientists noticing these scary trends, but environmental scientists studying animals are finding the same thing…vastly reduced amounts of all male species when living in polluted habitats.
What exactly is being affected within the bodies of male children and babies? Chemicals target the endocrine system which is comprised of testes, pancreas, and a host of glands that regulate many of the body’s functions. They stimulate growth, regulate our metabolism, and control reproduction. The sex hormone testosterone is a chemical messenger that has a central role in male development. Synthetic chemicals can block or disrupt how testosterone works in the body which permanently damages the sexual development of male children. A scary quote for the video is “This disruption of the human body’s own system could be said to be the greatest unintended consequence of the 20th century’s chemical revolution”.
The chemical Industry is only 100 years old. When we talk about parents today being the ‘plastic generation’ it is completely correct. By the 1950’s the chemical industry was turning out thousands of new compounds and one in particular revolutionized how we live – PLASTIC. All these chemical compounds were derived from one source – petroleum. Remember this once you hear about the Canadian Indian Reserve that has been the subject of many news stories, when it was discovered in 2006, their birth rates for males had plummeted. Have you heard about Aamjiwnaang, a community in Ontario, Canada surrounded by petrochemical complexes? These plants actually account for 40 per cent of Canada’s output of such products as synthetic rubber, polyvinyl chloride and plastics. The area also is the site of one of Canada’s largest hazardous-waste dumps. With 130 tones of toxic chemicals being expelled onto this community they became the subject of a medical mystery because they began to suffer from the sharpest decline in male births, and a very high rate of miscarriages. There is more information within the video on this community and it’s just shocking.
And it’s not just the Aamjiwnaang community suffering from less boys being born because the concern is worldwide. The pollution from synthetic chemicals that surround us in everyday life is the equivalent to a toxic mine-field for boys. All of the chemicals linked to a boy’s reproduction problems are made from petroleum, a fossil fuel that is the building block to all the products we use. The worst phthalate chemical used in PVC plastic is DEHP. The places you might find this chemical are quite surprising. I will talk more about this topic in the next Mommy Footprint, where Part II of The Disappearing Male will be discussed.
Part II: A closer look at the chemicals BPA and the Phthalate DEHP – how they began and where they exist.