MALE fertility is being seriously damaged by exposure to everyday chemicals, according to research.
A rise in IVF treatments could be down to the effect of chemicals such as cosmetics, detergents and pollutants, experts who took part in a year-long study have found.
Researchers studied a dozen sheep that had been exposed to a range of chemicals that humans encounter in everyday life. They found abnormalities that resulted in low sperm counts in the testicles of 42 per cent of the sheep.
The changes were not the same in all of the animals affected and the fertility issues were not obvious from the concentration of male hormones in the blood.
The research teams behind the study believe the reason why five of the sheep were adversely affected while the others were not could be a result of the way they were exposed to the chemicals or down to genetic factors.
Professor Neil Evans, from the University of Glasgow, said: “Humans and other animals are all constantly exposed to a whole range of chemicals in our environment, including cosmetics, plastics, detergents and pollutants.
“Some of these chemicals can interfere with the communication systems within the body and potentially have adverse effects on health.”
He said the tests involved exposing the sheep to “very low level” of chemicals and that it may have been the cumulative effect of mixing all the chemicals together that led to the reduction in fertility.
Prof Evans said: “It was very surprising to see such large changes in the animals.
“These findings highlight how even when the concentration of single chemicals in the environment may be very low, it is hard to predict what the health effects are when an individual is exposed to a mixture of chemicals.”