The Clean Water Blog

Sperm photo - attributed to ScienceGenetics:

"Pathetic swimmers…paddling crazily in circles”

I waited until after Father’s Day to post this article because I didn’t want to rain on your “celebrating Dad” parade… but there’s something you should know: the sperm are in trouble.

I know, I know, it’s kind of a sensitive topic, but it’s just too important to get all embarrassed and keep quiet about.  You see, there are a bunch of scientists who are getting worried because more and more sperm all the time are misshapen with two heads or two tails, or they’re just not good a swimming. And when the sperm can’t do their job right…well, it doesn’t take a PhD to realize what happens then – it becomes harder and harder for our species to reproduce. 

It’s all outlined in Are Your Sperm in Trouble?—an Op-Ed by Nicholas Kristoff published in the New York Times back in March (if you missed it, it’s worth a read).  It includes the shocking fact that today about 90% of sperm in a typical young man are misshapen.  (Wait…what…90%???? ) And even those that are the right shape “are often pathetic swimmers, veering like drunks or paddling crazily in circles.” And on top of all that, sperm counts are dropping sharply.  Folks, this doesn’t paint a good picture.

A major culprit in this epidemic is the class of chemicals called endocrine disruptors. These are chemicals that mess up our hormone system by acting like hormones in our bodies. Since our hormone system controls pretty much everything else – endocrine disruptors can cause all sorts of health problems.  And they are everywhere.  They are in plastics, personal care products, pesticides, flame retardants in children’s products, non-stick pans and many other products in our homes, schools and workplaces.

So what to do about this?  Kristoff makes a really important point: that this isn’t going to be solved by each person doing more careful shopping for products.  This is a systemic problem and, says Kristoff, “What’s needed above all is more aggressive regulation of endocrine disrupting chemicals.”

So, if you’re now sufficiently horrified, don’t go hide under the bed. Instead, join Clean Water Action in support of that aggressive regulation. If you live in Massachusetts, write to your state legislators today and ask them to pass the Children, Families and Firefighters Protection Act, to ban toxic flame retardants in children’s products and household furniture. 

This is just one step in the fight for our healthy future, but it’s important one. Dad will thank you.