Infertility amongst Chinese women has lept from 3% in 1990 to a staggering 12.5% in 2010, a trend that flies in the face of most global statistics, and which may be linked to the nation’s widespread pollution. The figures have prompted a group of Chinese scientists to launch a new study to examine potential links between environmental hazards like pesticides, plasticizers, and air pollution to the ability to conceive.
The study will focus primarily on “endocrine disrupters,” i.e. pollutants that mangle the human hormone regulation system. South China Morning Post covered the new study and reports:
More than 40 million have been diagnosed with infertility nationwide.
While some experts believe that 70 per cent of female infertility and 50 per cent of male infertility are the result of unhealthy lifestyles, others suspect that environmental conditions may also play a role. […]
Zhang’s team will study the levels of some 20 kinds of hormone-disrupting chemicals in women’s blood and urine and ask subjects to answer questionnaires. The study would last for five years, Zhang said.
“We can’t check every kind of environmental endocrine disruptor so we chose to focus on the chemicals which are used widely in our everyday life, such as pesticides, bisphenol A, plasticisers and some new material used in clothes,” Zhang said.
“New chemicals appear in our lives every day, and the problem is that we don’t know if these new chemicals will pose risks to our health,” he said. “So our study will be significant in providing evidence to prove if these chemicals are harmful. And based on that we can make our policies to prevent any hazards from such environmental pollution.”