Boys will be ... girls?
Everyday chemicals may be feminizing an increasing number of babies.
Wed, Oct 28, 2009 at 12:13 PM
Gender-bending chemicals are feminizing boys at alarming rates, warns science journalist Geoffrey Lean in a recent UK Telegraph article, who adds that the new EU regulations largely exempt the feminizing chemicals.
Lean bases his conclusion off a new 326-page report by Denmark’s environmental protection agency, which found that “2-year-old children are at risk from a bewildering array of gender-bending chemicals in such everyday items as waterproof clothes, rubber boots, bed linens, food, nappies, sunscreen lotion and moisturizing cream.”
But the study is hardly the first of its kind. Over the past few years, an increasing amount of research has come to the same disturbing conclusions. MNN has covered the issue in the past, as have a number of other news organizations such as the LA Times and the Toronto Globe and Mail.
Many studies to date, like the Danish report, have focused on chemical exposure in the womb because it is during this time that babies are the most vulnerable. This is particularly disturbing considering that earlier studies have shown that British children have a higher level of feminizing chemicals in their blood than their parents or grandparents. Some of these chemicals include dioxins, PVC, flame retardants, phthalates and PCBs (which were largely banned in the late '70s but persist in the environment today).
Phthalates, which soften plastics, have been under fire lately because of their ubiquitous presence in consumer products and their ability to disrupt hormones.
In fact, many of these chemicals are so common that the WWF organization has declared "there is very little, if anything, individuals can do to prevent contamination of themselves and their families.”
New research has also found that sperm counts are falling so fast that today's young men are less fertile than their fathers, which may explain the mysterious shift in the sex of babies.
According to the article, normally 106 boys are born for every 100 girls, but the proportion of females is rising quickly, so much so that some 250,000 babies who statistically should have been boys have ended up as girls in Japan and the United States alone. In Britain, the discrepancy amounts to thousands of babies a year.
Talk about a women's revolution.
So what is the government doing to address this issue? Well, even though EU’s new REACH legislation takes big strides in limiting chemical exposure to humans and the environment, journalist Lean says gender-bending chemicals are still largely exempt from the new regulations.
Lean says the reason is simple: the U.S., under George W. Bush’s administration, pressured Britain’s then-Prime Minister Tony Blair to water down the legislation to protect American exports.
As a result, the Danes plan to lobby to have the rules strengthened, in part because Denmark is especially concerned about new studies that show mixtures of chemicals have a far worse effect than individual chemicals.