A new study has found elevated levels of perfluoroalkyl acids (PFAAs) in young men associated with lowered sperm counts.
PFAAs are formed from the breakdown of certain perfluorinated compounds used as grease, soil and stain repellants, and also in the processing of non stick surfaces. We are exposed to PFAAs. PFOS and PFOA are both PFAAs. The Centers for Disease Control has found PFOA in the blood of 95% of Americans. Another study found PFOA in the blood of 96% of 598 children tested.
It is clear that our non stick, grease, soil and water free existence has resulted in our exposure. Unfortunately, another study found perfluorinated compounds in all of 45 breast milk samples. And these compounds cross the placent as well. A John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health study of 300 umbilical cord blood samples detected PFOS in 99% of the samples and PFOA in 100%.
So, does it matter? PFOA and PFOS are believed to be developmental toxicants. This study indicates that they may affect sperm quantity. This study indicates that high levels of PFAAs may result in lowered sperm counts.
The study involved 105 Danish men between the ages of 18 and 25. Generally,l young men are believed to have higher levels of PFAAs in their blood. The men were placed into three groups based upon their levels of 10 different PFAAs, including PFOA and PFOS. The groups were grounded based upon PFAA concentrations into considered low, medium and high PFAA levels. The researchers then evaluated each group’s semen volume, concentration, sperm count, sperm motility and appearance.
As explained by the lead researchers, “High PFAA levels were associated with fewer normal sperm.” The study found that the men in the high PFAA group had an average of 6.2 million normal sperm versus 15.5 million in the low PFAA group.
Not enough to give you concern? A study by UCLA researchers also linked PFAA exposure to lengthening the time to get pregnant.
So, if you want to reduce your exposure to PFAAs, you need to reduce your use of materials containing grease, soil and stain repellants. It appears that we are exposed to the materials primarily from household dust and from food, primarily the packaging. For example, microwave popcorn is a significant source of such compounds.
Simple Steps to Reduce Exposure:
1. Minimize contact with fast food packaging. Grease repellants are used on fast food packaging. That’s why the grease doesn’t show through those red McDonald’s fry boxes, but does through the paper bag. So, reduce the time the food is in contact by just taking it out.
2. Don’t store food in fast food containers. Take the pizza out of the box. Take the Chinese food out of the containers.
3. Bring your own containers. Some restaurants will allow you to use your own containers, so bring your stainless steel containers for your to go food.
4. Keep dust down. Reducing household dust will reduce your exposure.
5. Pop old fashioned. Microwave popcorn can be a significant source – so go the old fashioned route.
6. Buying new non stick? You might want to try a ceramic based non stick such as Green Gourmet.
7. Skip the repellants. If buying new carpeting, clothing, furniture, etc., skip grease, soil and water repellants. If you can’t tell from the information, just ask.
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