Research at Brunel University in London has revealed an alarming amount of contaminants in the urine of male volunteers. The study was conducted in the context of research into the decline in human fertility, in particular the causes of sperm quality decline.
Scientists have tested the levels of nine different chemicals in the urine samples of nearly a hundred Danish volunteers between the ages of 18 and 30, and tried to estimate the presence of 20 other substances based on data from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). The substances tested included bisphenol, phthalates, dioxin and paracetamol. The results were compared to an acceptable level known in the scientific literature. In addition, a list of risks based on their quantity and hazard was established from the elements of the chemical cocktail found in the urine.
While in some cases the amount of substances reached a hundred times the safe value, the chemical load was on average seventeen times the acceptable level.
Professor Andreas Kortenkamp, who signed the study, said researchers were shocked that people were exposed to dangerous chemicals in such quantities. He pointed out that, to his surprise, bisphenol A (BPA) was the main pollutant known to be dangerous for nearly two decades. BPA was followed by dioxins, paracetamol and phthalates – the seriousness of the situation is shown by the fact that the result could not have been brought close to safe levels without the main pollutant BPA being thrown out of the statistics.
Regarding the limitations of their research, experts acknowledged that their samples were from 2009 and 2010, and the amount of BPA may have decreased or even increased since then. On the other hand, it may be interesting, but there is no data on what is the situation among women of a similar age. At the same time, it was believed that there was a good chance that the danger was still underestimated, as only a small slice of a chemical cocktail reaching people was examined.
Got the culprit, the country is happy
Sperm quality has plummeted in Western countries in recent decades. According to scientific studies, the number of sperm has halved in 40 years. Reproductive system disorders such as testicular failure or testicular cancer have become more common. While air pollution and smoking were previously thought to be the main causes, recent research is increasingly identifying chemicals, chemicals or drugs used in plastics in the developed world as the cause of the phenomenon.
According to Korentkamp, appropriate epidemiological research examining changes in sperm quality may support their conclusion. Until then, experts are calling for a ban on the use of BPA-containing plastics in food containers. It was also pointed out that there were no data on the effect of paracetamol on sperm count as an analgesic and antipyretic, and that animal testing should be started immediately.