COMMON household chemicals may be leaving men infertile – and their pet dogs too.
A study found two everyday pollutants damage sperm in both humans and canines.
Getty – Contributor A study has found that household chemicals damage your sperm – and that of your dog’s
Experts warn their findings suggest pet dogs can act as “canary in the coal mine” for male infertility.
Previous research has found human sperm counts have declined dramatically – with a 50 per cent global reduction in sperm quality in the past 80 years.
And domestic dogs have seen a similar impact, suggesting man-made chemicals may be fuelling the infertility crisis.
Around one in six UK couples now struggle to conceive.
To test their theory, Nottingham University scientists exposed samples of human and dog sperm to two chemicals commonly found in homes.
They looked at the impact of DEHP – found in carpets, flooring, sofas, clothes, and toys – and PCB153, which still persists in the environment despite being banned.
Researchers discovered exposure to everyday concentrations in the lab had the same harmful effect on sperm from both man and dog.
Exposure reduced their ability to swim and also damaged their DNA.
Leading researcher Richard Lea, Associate Professor in Reproductive Biology at the School of Veterinary Medicine and Science, said: “This new study supports our theory that the domestic dog is indeed a ‘sentinel’ or mirror for human male reproductive decline and our findings suggest that man-made chemicals that have been widely used in the home and working environment may be responsible for the fall in sperm quality reported in both man and dog that share the same environment.”
Fellow researcher Dr Rebecca Sumner said exposure to the chemicals lead to “reduced sperm motility and increased fragmentation of DNA” in both human and dog samples.
Hormone disrupting chemicals, such as the phthalate DEHP, highlighted in this study, have been linked to a reduction in male fertility for many yearsDr Anna WatsonHead of Advocacy at CHEM Trust
She added: “Human male infertility is linked to increased levels of DNA damage in sperm. We now believe this is the same in pet dogs because they live in the same domestic environment.”
The study is published in the journal Scientific Reports.
Allan Pacey, Professor of Andrology at Sheffield University, said lab tests do not always reflect real life.
He said: “This is a well conducted study which shows these two man-made chemicals can damage sperm in the laboratory.
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“However, we need to be careful in the interpretation of these results, because often what we see in the lab is a long way from what we see in real life when humans (and animals) are going about their daily lives.”
Dr Anna Watson, Head of Advocacy at CHEM Trust, said: “Hormone disrupting chemicals, such as the phthalate DEHP, highlighted in this study, have been linked to a reduction in male fertility for many years. But these chemicals are still used in everyday consumer products that we find in our homes.
“This important research demonstrates yet again that we need faster, stronger and more comprehensive regulation of man-made chemicals to protect humans and animals from their health–harming properties.”
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