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Posted: November 9th, 2023

Environmental chemicals and bad impacts on the reproductive health of humans

Environmental chemicals and bad impacts on the reproductive health of humans

Environmental chemicals are substances that can interfere with the normal functioning of the endocrine system, which regulates the production and activity of hormones in the body. Hormones are essential for many aspects of reproductive health, such as fertility, pregnancy, development, and aging. Exposure to environmental chemicals can disrupt the balance of hormones and cause adverse effects on reproductive health and fertility.

Some examples of environmental chemicals that can affect reproductive health are:

– Endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs): These are chemicals that can mimic, block, or alter the action of natural hormones. EDCs can be found in plastics, pesticides, cosmetics, food additives, and industrial pollutants. EDCs can affect the development and function of the reproductive organs, the quality and quantity of sperm and eggs, the implantation and maintenance of pregnancy, and the onset of puberty and menopause. EDCs can also increase the risk of reproductive cancers, such as breast, prostate, ovarian, and testicular cancer.

– Persistent organic pollutants (POPs): These are chemicals that are resistant to degradation and can accumulate in the environment and in living organisms. POPs can be released from industrial activities, agricultural practices, waste disposal, and combustion processes. POPs can cross the placenta and affect the development of the fetus, causing low birth weight, preterm delivery, congenital anomalies, neurodevelopmental disorders, and impaired immune function. POPs can also impair fertility and reproductive function in adults by altering hormone levels, ovarian function, sperm quality, and sexual behavior.

– Heavy metals: These are metals that have high density and toxicity. Heavy metals can be found in natural sources, such as soil and water, or in anthropogenic sources, such as mining, smelting, manufacturing, and waste disposal. Heavy metals can enter the body through inhalation, ingestion, or skin contact. Heavy metals can damage the reproductive organs and tissues, reduce fertility and fecundity, cause miscarriage and stillbirth, impair fetal growth and development, and induce oxidative stress and inflammation.

The effects of environmental chemicals on reproductive health can vary depending on several factors, such as:

– The type, dose, duration, timing, and route of exposure
– The individual susceptibility and genetic background
– The interaction with other environmental or biological factors
– The life stage at which exposure occurs

Therefore, it is important to assess the exposure to environmental chemicals throughout the life course and to adopt preventive measures to reduce the exposure and mitigate the adverse effects on reproductive health.

References:

: Messerlian C. How our environment impacts reproductive health. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health News. 2022 Aug 23. Available from: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/features/how-our-environment-impacts-reproductive-health/

: Ghosh A., Tripathy A., Ghosh D. Impact of endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) on reproductive health of human. Proceedings of the Zoological Society. 2022;75:16–30.

: Environmental Working Group. The hazards of toxic chemicals — Reproductive health. Available from: https://www.ewg.org/areas-focus/family-health/reproductive-health

: Woodruff TJ., Carlson A., Schwartz JM., Giudice LC., eds. Environmental impacts on reproductive health and fertility. Cambridge University Press; 2010.

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