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Survival of the Fittest? Poor Fecundity Odds on the Rise

BY OLIVIA ROSS, Acumen Staff Writer

If evolutionary theory and eugenics promise are to be believed, the sanctity of the world relies on the survival of the fittest. But how will the fit produce if research from Professor Shanna Swan, a U.S. epidemiologist who studies environmental influences on human development, is to be believed? In her new book Countdown, Swan suggests sperm counts could reach zero by 2045, largely through environmental pollutants called phthalates and bisphosphenol A (BPA) used in plastics. Additionally, per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) used in waterproofing have been linked to poor reproduction.

Swan said the chemicals to blame for this crisis are found in everything from plastic containers and food wrapping, to waterproof clothes and fragrances in cleaning products, to soaps and shampoos, to electronics and carpeting. They are believed to have already caused the physical shrinking of penises, reduced sperm counts, and general semen quality. In fact, Swan's research shows a 60 percent drop in sperm counts since 1973.

“In some parts of the world, the average twentysomething woman today is less fertile than her grandmother was at 35. The current state of reproductive affairs can’t continue much longer without threatening human survival," Swan said. "It’s a global existential crisis.”

States, including Washington and California, have adopted regulations to limit the use of products containing these chemicals and have increased public awareness of their dangers by placing warning labels on packaging.

"It is becoming increasingly clear that our environment, Mother Nature, God -- Himself, intends for us to respect our natural spaces or pay the consequences. These contaminants can stay in the human body and be transmitted into the systems of babies -- making our ability to reproduce healthy, fit children, random at best," said biologist Manuel Pantaris. "For those who are troubled by what they see as a weakening of the human genome, they will have to address the world around them as causal and become serious about environmental toxins."


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