From the Whole Life Times:
Gender-bending industrial chemicals are skewing the birth ratio in favor of baby girls. Could a world without men be a few short generations away?
By Elizabeth BarkerLast summer a team of Scandinavian scientists announced that twice as many girls as boys are being born in the Arctic, a region said to serve as a “pollution sink” for the rest of the planet. Earlier in the year a report from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences determined that the ratio of male-to-female births has substantially dropped in the United States and Japan, yielding about 250,000 fewer boys than would have been born had the sex ratio circa 1970 endured. In both cases, researchers pegged environmental exposures as a probable factor in the shortage of boy births.
As more and more research reveals a decline in the number of bouncing baby boys born each year, scientists are zeroing in on a class of synthetic chemicals known as endocrine disruptors. Including plastic ingredients like phthalates and bisphenol-A, these commonplace compounds are known to mimic female hormones and thwart the production of testosterone, explains Shanna Swan, Ph.D., director of the Center for Reproductive Epidemiology at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. So far, most studies have focused on how endocrine-disrupting chemicals can affect the reproductive systems of animals. But in 2005 the journal Environmental Health Perspectives published Swan’s findings that — among a group of 85 mother-and-son pairs — boys whose moms had high levels of phthalates were more likely to show signs of “demasculinization” (such as a shorter distance between the anus and the genitals and incompletely descended testicles). What’s more, that recent report from the Arctic detected high levels of hormone-mimicking pollutants in the blood of pregnant women throughout Inuit villages with an excess of female births....
Like about 95 percent of all synthetic chemicals used in the United States, most endocrine disruptors were never tested for their impact on human health — or on the environment — before turning up in our baby bottles, plastic wrap and perfume. “What we need in this country is a government that will protect us from all these dangerous chemicals, but instead there’s no one minding the store,” says Brody. Stahlhut likens the current system to the pre-FDA, “wild wild west” days of the pharmaceutical industry, when there was little to no regulation of drugs and therapeutic products. “I’d like for us to do better than that,” he laments. “But if you look at any health hazards we’ve already learned about — whether it’s lead or smoking — there’s always been exposure for decades and decades before someone says, ‘Oh, look, there’s a problem here.’”
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