Fossil fuel pollution hurting fertility rates: Researchers

Fossil fuel fumes could be decimating fertility rates, new research has found.

In 1950, women were having an average of 4.7 children each. Now, the global mean is 2.4.

Much of the decline can be explained by massive social changes like the invention of cheap and accessible birth control and increasing numbers of women gaining the freedom to work outside the home.

But toxic fossil fuel chemicals could also play a role in the plummeting figures, doctors from the Women and Infants Research Foundation have warned.

“We hypothesise that declines in fertility rates might be linked to exposures to chemicals originating from fossil fuels causing human reproductive problems and cancer. Early gestation might be a sensitive period,” they wrote in an article published in leading medical periodical, Nature Reviews Endocrinology.

“The current unsustainable birth rates will eventually result in decreasing populations.”

Burning fossil fuels releases a toxic cocktail of chemicals, all of which have been found in people’s blood, urine, semen, breast milk, and fatty tissue.

Many of these pollutants are “endocrine disruptors” — in short, they scramble hormonal systems, damage sperm quality, and harm reproductive health.

Contributing author Professor Roger Hart — Head of Fertility Services at King Edward Memorial Hospital — said subtle alterations in fertility rates were already visible by the early 1900s, but had accelerated rapidly.

“Most industrialised regions now have rates below levels required to sustain their populations,” he warns.

If further research proves this toxic connection, governments may have to step in with “decisive regulatory action” to reverse the trend.

Other indicators of declining reproductive health include increasing incidence in testicular cancer among young men and an unusual numbers of twins being born.

Source link