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PFOA and PFOS Cause Lower Sperm Counts and Smaller Penises, Study Finds

PHOTO: The News-Herald/AP

There’s a new reason to be concerned about PFOA and PFOs, toxic chemicals used in nonstick pans, waterproof products, and firefighting foam.

By Sharon Lerner | 30 November 2018

THE INTERCEPT — There’s a new reason to be concerned about toxic chemicals used in nonstick pans, waterproof products, and firefighting foam: PFOA and PFOS impair male reproductive health, according to a study released in early November.

Researchers have already documented that PFOA and PFOS, two compounds in a class known as PFAS, reduce the fertility of male mice, rats, and rabbits. The new study, published by the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, shows that young men exposed to the chemicals have a range of problems with their reproductive systems — and also lays out, for the first time, how these chemicals interfere with hormones inside the cell.

The research was conducted in Veneto, Italy, one of several areas of the world where industrial use of PFAS has caused drinking water contamination and led to the chemicals accumulating in people’s blood. The mid-Ohio Valley, where a DuPont plant released the chemicals into the Ohio River, is another.

The researchers compared male high school students who had been exposed to high levels of PFOA and PFOS in Veneto to young men who hadn’t been exposed and found that those in the exposed group had shorter penises, lower sperm counts, lower sperm mobility, and a reduction in “anogenital distance,” a measure that scientists see as a marker of reproductive health. The percentage of normally shaped sperm in the exposed group was just over half that in the control group. […]

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