University of Nottingham researchers studied sperm health in men and dogs and found that chemicals found in household items are damaging the sperm of both men and their dogs.
Researchers say that there are two hormone-disrupting chemicals that significantly damage the modern male. Diethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP), is often found in carpets and flooring, upholstery, wires, toys, and even in clothing. DEHP is a substance added to products to increase plasticity or flexibility. The other chemical, polychlorinated biphenyl 153 (PCB), is banned in countries across the globe after being widely used in electronics and machinery in the 1970s. But PCBs are still found in the environment — and consequently in the food chain — thanks to leaks or products that were improperly discarded or stored.
This is the first study that tests the effects of the contaminants on both human sperm and dog sperm. The researchers had previously discovered that sperm quality in domestic dogs had significantly declined in recent decades — numbers that tend to mirror research on declining fertility in men. Those studies report up to a 50% global reduction in sperm quality over the past 80 years.
Researchers exposed sperm samples from nine men and 11 stud dogs living in the UK to both chemicals, and found similar levels of damage in both species. The authors were sure to test the samples using levels of exposure comparable to what one might encounter in everyday life.
“In both cases and in both subjects, the effect was reduced sperm motility and increased fragmentation of DNA,” says co-author Rebecca Sumner in a university release.
This important new research was published in the journal Human Reproduction. “This new study is the first to test the effect of two known environmental contaminants, DEHP and PCB153, on both dog and human sperm, in the levels found occurring in samples,” state the researchers.
“And our findings suggest that man-made chemicals that have been widely used in the home and working environment may be responsible for the fall in sperm quality reported in both man and dog that share the same environment.”
Professor Richard Lea said: ‘This new study supports our theory that the domestic dog is indeed a ‘sentinel’ or mirror for human male reproductive decline, the Daily Mail reported.
‘And our findings suggest that man-made chemicals that have been widely used in the home and working environment may be responsible for the fall in sperm quality reported in both man and dog that share the same environment.
‘Our previous study in dogs showed that the chemical pollutants found in the sperm of adult dogs, and in some pet foods, had a detrimental effect on sperm function at the concentrations previously found in the male reproductive tract.
‘This new study is the first to test the effect of two known environmental contaminants, DEHP and PCB153, on both dog and human sperm, in the levels found occurring in samples.
Researchers say the findings raise new red flags when it comes to chemical pollutants within the home, as well as in locations that might have greater concentrations of PCBs in the environment.