The chemical industry has rapidly risen in the last century offering us products that make our life “easier”. Many everyday products became convenient like the nonstick coating on cookware, and the production of water, oil, and stain-repellant surfaces for fabrics and carpeting. All these commodities have improved thanks to the use of Perfluoroalkyl compounds (PFCs) which are also present in the packaging of greasy foods. But, nothing comes without certain drawbacks!
PFCs are a class of chemicals with unique atomic properties that have been used in many daily products. However, like ail the amazing chemicals that have been discovered or produced in the 20th century, not to mention the plastic, come with side effects.
In the case of PFCs many evidences have come that it can affect the optimal health of men’s reproductive system by interfering with hormone signaling. There are many documents and proofs that have confirmed this, and probably the most appalling one is that it can affect the size of the penis and the sperm mobility.
According to a conducted study by a team at the University of Padua, Italy, PFCs can harm the reproductive system in men. Namely, young men who grew up in an area with PFC-contaminated drinking water were with smaller penises and with low sperm mobility which was not the case with the ones who drank clean water while growing up.
The researchers reported: “As the first report on water contamination of PFCs goes back to 1977, the magnitude of the problem is alarming as it affects an entire generation of young individuals, from 1978 onwards.”
In order to offer solid proof of the findings of this study, the author Andrea Di Nisio and his colleagues used a series of lab-based cellular experiments. The experiments showed that the two of the most common PFCs, compounds called PFOA and PFOS, bind to the testosterone receptor and block its activation.
The findings of this study were released in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. Here it is what the scientists reported:
“This study documents that PFCs have a substantial impact on human male health as they directly interfere with hormonal pathways potentially leading to male infertility. We found that increased levels of PFCs in plasma and seminal fluid positively correlate with circulating testosterone and with a reduction of semen quality, testicular volume, penile length, and AGD* [anogenital distance].”
*The acronym AGD stands for a marker of abnormal male reproductive tract development.
Unfortunately, the Veneto region as a part of the province of Padua is not the only place where PFCs has contaminated the water. The other locations highly polluted with this chemical are the Mid-Ohio Valley of West Virginia, and area polluted by the DuPont plant that dropped the water with PFCs in the river meanwhile covering the possible threat of this chemical, then the Dordrecht area of the Netherlands, and the Shandong district in China.
These chemicals do not decompose in nature; in fact, once they are released into the environment, they stay there and pose a threat for the health of many human beings. Scientists believe that these chemicals can even outlast human life on Earth.
How to protect ourselves?
According to Di Nisio the first step is to find a way how to safely remove PFCs from the blood. Meanwhile PFCs will still be a threat for the health of the people and because of that we should make an effort to push the officials to completely ban PFCs from use.
Di Nisio gave the following statement in the IF Science, quote:
“At least here in Italy, it is very difficult to know if a product contains these chemicals. In the case of a product where it is explicitly stated ‘PFOA-free’, I do not feel safe anyway, because PFOA is only one of hundreds of possible PFC compounds, and they can all be dangerous… therefore it is very hard to avoid any contact with any PFC.”