Environmental contaminants PCBs damage sperm, study says

PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) are toxic chemicals found widely in the environment and absorbed into the human body via food. In 1977, their manufacture was banned over health concerns. However, lighting and electrical devices made before 1977 may still harbor PCBs, Forbes reports.

Their findings of a latest study that was published in the journal Human Reproduction revealed a link between DNA damage to sperm and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in the blood. The scientists found that among European men, the amount of damaged sperm rose along with rising levels of PCBs in the blood. Up to 60 percent of their sperm in men with the highest levels of PCBs displayed signs of damage, according to China View.

The use of PCBs has been banned by most countries for many years but can still be found in water, soil, and air. Exposure can happen through ingestion of contaminated foods, such as fish that swim in polluted waters or contaminated well water. Also, air exposure can occur around older electrical equipment, such as televisions and refrigerators.

Researchers say it's too soon to tell if the sperm damage caused by PCBs might affect male fertility, but these findings suggest further research is warranted. A.M.

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