Are hidden chemicals in your home jeopardizing your husband’s fertility?

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Pop quiz: which items in your home contain chemicals that are potentially harmful to fertility?

Now, most folks will think of cleaning agents such as sprays, detergents, and disinfectants – and they’re right, these items do contain harmful chemicals.

But what most people don’t realize is that those aren’t the only culprits. Other household items that are seemingly innocuous (think sofas, gloves, and raincoats) may also leach hidden chemicals, and impact your husband or partner’s fertility.

Study shows that environmental contaminants at home are wreaking havoc on men

According to a 2019 study by the University of Nottingham, environmental contaminants found in the home are producing adverse effects on male fertility.

In this study, researchers from the University of Nottingham tested the effects of two human-made chemicals (DEHP and chemical polychlorinated biphenyl 153) on men. DEHP is a commonly used plasticizer which is found in abundance in homes, and chemical polychlorinated biphenyl 153 is an industrial chemical that’s banned globally, but is nevertheless widely detectable in the environment.

After experimenting using samples of sperm from donor men, the researchers found that these two chemicals have a damaging effect on said sperm. According to the team, exposure to these chemicals reduced sperm motility and increased the fragmentation of DNA in sperm.

What is DEHP, and what does it do?

DEHP is a phthalate, which is a “gender-bending” chemical. This chemical disrupts the endocrine systems of not humans and other species, and is known to:

  • Contribute to a decline in male fertility
  • Contribute to congenital malformations of the male reproductive system
  • Interfere with important physiological processes including masculinization, development of secondary sexual traits and bone metabolism

DEHP is currently on the EU’s Candidate List of SVHCs, which means that there are restrictions are in place for the making of these phthalates. The chemical (along with other phthalates) are also banned in the production of children’s toys in the US.

How to avoid DEHP at home

DEHP is a plasticizer that’s added to materials to make them softer and more flexible, and they’re largely used to reduce brittleness in PVC items. Bearing this in mind, you may avoid purchasing and using PVC items (including PVC gloves, sofas, bottles, food trays) to reduce the chances of you and your partner coming into contact with DEHP.

Other everyday household goods that this hidden chemical is commonly found in include bottled water, packaging materials and plastic wrap, plastic shower curtains, and plastic clothing including raincoats and rainboots.

Wherever possible, try and avoid using these items. For instance, if you’re keeping leftovers in the fridge, utilize a glass container instead of a plastic one (even one that’s labelled as non-toxic). Steer clear of using shrink wrap or plastic wrap as well.

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