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article imagePig infertility in Spain could mean problems for humans too

By Anne Sewell     Jun 10, 2014 in Health
Zaragoza - In 2010, there was a mysterious drop in pig fertility in various farms, located all over Spain. Since then, a Spanish scientist has investigated the situation and it seems her findings could have serious implications for us humans, too.
Cristina Nerín is an analytical chemist based at the University of Zaragoza. Since 2010, she has been investigating why 41 pig farms, each with 800 and 3,000 pigs and in several areas of Spain, suddenly experienced a drop in litter numbers, with many of their sows unable to reproduce at all.
Initially Nerín took a look at the sows themselves, as well as the semen used to artificially inseminate them, and found no evidence of disease or malformation in either.
However, Nerín then examined the plastic bags which had been used for storing the semen at the farms experiencing the infertility problems.
As an expert in the study of packaging materials, she has now determined there is a relationship between the chemical compounds used in the plastic bags and the "reproductive failures" of the female pigs. To be more specific, the damage to the sperm's DNA.
What is particularly worrying about this situation is that the same toxic chemicals are used in packaging human food. For example cyclic lactone is used as an adhesive in packaging of potato chips and sliced meat. It is thought that the chemicals can then migrate into the food they contain.
Mention was also made of a chemical compound called BADGE, which is apparently a derivative of the notorious bisphenol A (BPA). This apparently is the building block of epoxy resins that form the basis of packaging and can linings for 95 percent of food and beverages consumed in the U.S.A.
In her study, which has been published in the journal Scientific Reports, Nerín says, "(It) shows the real risks we face."
Reportedly a previous study had been conducted in Germany which looked at the effect of 96 endocrine disruptors on human sperm, found in chemicals which according to scientists are “omnipresent in food, household and personal care products.”
What those scientists found was that the tails of the sperm they tested had changed in shape, particularly when exposed to chemicals used in the packaging of food, toothpastes, soaps and toys and well as in sunscreens.
Physician Niels Skakkebaek wrote in the study that, “The sperm cells may have more difficulty in sensing where the egg is."
A sobering thought indeed for those hoping for children one day.
National Geographic links to an interactive which shows the toxic chemicals that may be lurking in your home right now and offers tips on how to avoid them.
Spanish source:
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