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No doubt you’ve heard just how destructive plastic is to the environment: multiple companies, such as Starbucks and Disney, have vowed to stop using plastic straws in their business operations. Beyond shrinking a company’s environmental footprint, reducing plastic may reverse the side effect of making current generations… less hung.
The Sun reports that some experts say chemicals in everyday household products, such as cleaners and food packaging, can make a man’s package smaller. It’s enough to make you rethink putting your lunch in a plastic bag, isn’t it?
University of Melbourne researchers Andrew Pask and Mark Green suggest that, because of plastics and other chemicals, penile birth defects have doubled in Australia.
They cite common plastic components such as phthalates and BPA, and parabens, a class of preservative often found in toothpaste and other products.
Pask and Green studied both humans and animals exposed to the chemicals for development of a defect called hypospadias, in which the opening of the penis is on the underside rather than the tip.
They aren’t the first to observe this worrisome phenomenon.
In 2007, a study found that severe hypospadias had almost doubled between 1980 and 2000 in Western Australia. In France, a small study in 2015 found a “strong” link between the exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals during pregnancy and hypospadias, as did a study in Italy.
“No one likes to talk about this,” Pask told the Sydney Morning Herald. “Often parents don’t even like to tell their kids they had it — it gets surgically repaired, but often the surgeries don’t work very well.
“When it’s doubling, it cannot be genetic defects — it takes years for that to spread through a population,” he added. “So we know it has to be environmental in origin.”
To study the effects, Pask gave pregnant mice water laced with atrazine (his findings have not been published). He finds that the damage intensifies over the following generations and are especially noticeable by the third generation.
“Humans have been exposed to these since the 1950s, so about two generations,” Green said.
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