12 votes

Scientists are concerned by falling sperm counts and declining egg quality. Endocrine-disrupting chemicals may be the problem.

4 comments

  1. [4]
    bilbodwyer
    Link
    I remember reading a (fictional) book in high school, where a lad from the future travels back to the present day to try to prevent the invention of some cosmetic product or sun cream (it's been...

    I remember reading a (fictional) book in high school, where a lad from the future travels back to the present day to try to prevent the invention of some cosmetic product or sun cream (it's been 15 years, so I'm fuzzy on the details). That invention, whatever it was, ended up causing such widespread infertility amongst humans that the only way they could ensure the survival of the species was to start cloning, cue all of the associated dystopic scenarios that would entail. The lad that comes back in time is a clone of the present-day main character I think.

    The idea of seemingly innocuous chemicals being harmful in ways we can't see really stuck with me, even if all other details of the book didn't (OT: if this book sounds familiar to anyone, please let me know what it is: I've been curious to read it again!). The advice at the end of the article feels quite sound, even if you doubt the veracity of the fertility claims. The recommendation to use glass food containers instead of plastic should be shouted from the rooftops, IMO. If you've ever microwaved something tomato-based in a plastic tupperware, you'll know that the plastic gets stained red over time. If your food is changing the container's colour, what is the container doing to your food?

    10 votes
    1. rogue_cricket
      Link Parent
      Yeah - I think there's a lot we don't know about what we're pumping into our environment, and a lot we don't know about the human body (especially with regards to the endocrine system). We won't...

      Yeah - I think there's a lot we don't know about what we're pumping into our environment, and a lot we don't know about the human body (especially with regards to the endocrine system). We won't find out how much we're hurting ourselves for decades... kind of scary to think about. We did it before with lead, and now we might be doing it again with something else, who knows. (But I also suspect plastics as a contributor.)

      I actually saw something recently regarding obesity as well. It's not just many humans getting fatter, many animals are getting fatter too. With pets or feral rats and pigeons there are lots of potential reasons that make intuitive sense, sure. But this has been observed even in lab animals that have had the same fixed diet and activity regimens for decades. I'm not sure if there's any credence to it, but it does potentially point to some shared factor we aren't aware of that is affecting metabolism. So it might not just be affecting reproductive viability.

      I am on board with only eating out of glass containers too. At the same time, microplastics from polyester fabrics and other sources are in essentially all the water on Earth at this point. :/

      10 votes
    2. [2]
      lonjil
      Link Parent
      The red in tomato is very sticky, and doesn't really indicate anything about a plastic container other than it not being as smooth and hard to stick to as glass.

      The red in tomato is very sticky, and doesn't really indicate anything about a plastic container other than it not being as smooth and hard to stick to as glass.

      4 votes
      1. SheepWolf
        Link Parent
        Lycopene! I read about it the other day here where a commenter also mentioned the yellow in tumeric does a similar thing. No idea what it is or is not supposed to imply about the safety of food...

        Lycopene! I read about it the other day here where a commenter also mentioned the yellow in tumeric does a similar thing. No idea what it is or is not supposed to imply about the safety of food plastics though.

        It is a bright red carotenoid hydrocarbon found in tomatoes and other red fruits and vegetables, such as red carrots, watermelons, grapefruits, and papayas. It is not present in strawberries or cherries.

        Lycopene is the pigment in tomato sauces that turns plastic cookware orange. It is insoluble in plain water, but it can be dissolved in organic solvents and oils. Because of its non-polarity, lycopene in food preparations will stain any sufficiently porous material, including most plastics. To remove this staining, the plastics may be soaked in a solution containing a small amount of chlorine bleach. The bleach oxidizes the lycopene, thus allowing the now-polarized product to dissolve.

        4 votes