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A recent report from the University of New Mexico reveals significant concentrations of microplastics in the testicles of both humans and dogs, adding to concerns about plastic pollution’s widespread impact on health.

Plastics could impact male fertility

New research suggests that plastic contamination could be negatively impacting male fertility. The study, published in Toxicological Sciences, found 12 types of microplastics in the testes of both dogs and humans, indicating potential harm to reproductive health.

The study conducted by Dr. Xiaozhong “John” Yu and his team at the UNM College of Nursing found microplastics in human and canine testes. The human tissue was obtained from the New Mexico Office of the Medical Investigator, while the dog tissue samples were sourced from City of Albuquerque animal shelters and private veterinary clinics.

Researchers discovered plastic particles in testicle samples after filtering out fat and proteins. Dogs had 122.63 micrograms of plastic per gram of tissue, while human males had 329.44 micrograms per gram, almost three times more. This concentration surpassed what’s been found in women’s placental tissue.

Yu initially questioned the ability of microplastics to enter the reproductive system but was astonished by the results, especially those concerning dogs and humans.

Scientists discovered polyethylene (PE) and PVC in human testicles and dogs, with PE being common in plastic bags and bottles, and PVC in plumbing materials. In dogs, high levels of PVC correlated with lower sperm counts, indicating a potential reproductive health impact. This suggests plastic affects reproductive health, highlighting dogs as an indicator for men’s health concerns.

PVC releases chemicals interfering with sperm production

The type of plastic used may affect its function, with PVC potentially releasing chemicals that interfere with sperm production and cause hormonal disruption. Dogs, physiologically closer to humans, show similarities in sperm production, suggesting shared environmental factors contributing to declining sperm counts. The study, focusing on men with an average age of 35, suggests that plastic contamination likely starts in childhood, indicating a trend towards lower sperm counts beginning early in life.

Yu expresses concern about the growing presence of plastic in the environment, particularly its potential impact on the younger generation.