On March 21, 2014 the newspaper New York Times published an article on the threats of phthalates to male fertility based on a February 2014 science publication linking men’s phthalates exposure to couple fecundity (previously reported on by the FPF). As reported by the New York Times, the gender gap in fertility problems caused by chemical exposures was particularly large when it came to phthalates. Researchers consider that phthalates may cause changes to the male reproductive system. Andrea Gore, professor at the University of Texas, U.S., states in the article that the epidemiological evidence supports earlier evidence from animal studies. Heather Patisaul, professor at North Carolina State University, U.S., agrees that anything that is testosterone dependent is likely to be affected by phthalates. Women’s lower levels of androgenic hormones may account for the lesser effect of phthalates on female fertility. The issue is complicated by the fact that the levels of phthalate exposure in the population are uncertain and that not all phthalates have the same effect size. While phthalates are not bioaccumulative, they are “pseudopersistent” according to the World Health Organization (WHO), because their use in a large variety of products results in continuous low level exposure in the body irrespective of persistence. Germaine Buck Louis, lead author of the recent study on couple fecundity, suggests avoiding products that may contain phthalates or switch to safer alternatives. Phthalates are used in cosmetics, other personal care products, toys and plastic food containers.
Deborah Blum (March 21, 2014). “A threat to male fertility.” New York Times.
FPF article “Phthalates linked to reduced couple fecundity”