A new study published in the journal Human Reproduction is the first to show a clear link between common household chemicals and infertility. Perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) such as perfluorooctanoate (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) are found in all kinds of consumer products such as paper wraps, fire-fighting foams, pesticides, clothing, upholstery, carpets and personal care products.) They are used to create Teflon and other nonstick products. And they also find their way into the environment in the manufacturing of industrial cleaners and emulsifiers.
In the new study, researchers at the University of California at Los Angeles and Vanderbilt University analyzed the impact of a woman's blood levels of perfluorinated chemicals and her ability to conceive. In the United States, the average level of PFCs in the blood is thought to be about 5 parts per billion. Women who took part in the recent study had PFOA levels in their blood that ranged from less than 1 part per billion to 41.5 parts per billion. The women had PFOS levels that ranged from 6.4 parts per billion to 106.7 parts per billion.
Researchers divided the women's levels of PFCs into four ranges. For PFOA, the likelihood of infertility increased by 60-154 percent for women in the three higher ranges, compared to the lowest range. For PFOS, the likelihood of infertility increased by 70-134 percent.
At this point, the researchers aren't clear how PFOS and PFOA might reduce fertility, but guess that the chemicals may interfere with hormones involved in reproduction. It's also possible that where women have high PFC levels, men do as well; further affecting a couple's fertility.