In recognition of the effect that some of the environmental toxins release into the environment from the workplace, food industries,  homes and others areas, the International Federation of Obstetrics and Gynaecologists’ Committee on Reproductive Toxins and Environmental Health released a communique to member countries on World Earth Day.

The statement reads in part, “A healthy pregnancy starts with clean air, clean water and no toxic chemicals. There is no ‘safe dose’ of toxins – such as air pollution, contaminated water, pesticides – for pregnant women or anyone else.

There is so much that mothers can do alone. We need a global health policy to protect pregnant women from exposure to toxins.

We encourage healthy food production and access to food for all. Let us make environmental health part of health care.

FIGO calls for the global health community to create a cleaner, more sustainable and healthier future

It is noteworthy that some of the issues leading to this conclusion have been discussed in several publications, including the 2009 report by Ashiru et al in the African Journal of Reproductive Medicine. It is, therefore, necessary for me to revisit these points again for emphasis.

Infertility is an alarming modern epidemic affecting more couples than ever. Nowadays, one out of six couples in the developed countries experience difficulty in getting pregnant. The situation is worse in developing countries. What was once seen as a woman’s problem is now known to affect men.

It is now clear that the natural approach to treating infertility addresses all the body systems, rather than focusing solely on the reproductive system.

Many couples that can’t become pregnant suffer from a combination of sub-clinical conditions. These conditions can’t cause infertility on their own, but – in combination – they can reduce a  couple’s chances of conceiving.

For example, gluten intolerance alone cannot cause infertility. However, the resulting inflammation in the gut can minimise your nutrient absorption and lead to deficiencies in the nutrients required for optimal sperm, egg and hormone production and a healthy pregnancy.

Exposure to heavy metals, radiation, and toxic chemicals in some foods, drugs and other products can damage the DNA. A recent nutrigenomic (a study of the effects of nutrients on gene expression) research suggests what we eat can influence our gene structure and expression.

Minimise your exposure to toxic chemicals.

Exposure to environmental toxins (in the form of industrial chemicals) both in the utero and neonatal stages may dramatically affect fertility. Most chemicals used in everyday life do not go through the same checks as medicines. Consequently, poisonous chemicals end up circulating in our environment, food supply, air and water.

The strongest evidence of heavy metals and environmental pollution adversely interfering with healthy reproductive function in women has been found in lead. Other compounds that can alter hormone function and result in adverse reproductive health effects include:

There are toxins in the environment and in our diet that can disrupt or even stop ovulation.

Endocrine disruptors can interfere with hormone function and cause endometriosis and polycystic ovarian disease.

Phthalates toxins in plastic food containers, IV bags, medical supplies, vinyl flooring and packaging at high levels have been associated with miscarriage and testicular toxicity. At low levels, they disrupt hormonal balance.

Polyvinyl chloride chemicals are used in manufacturing rubber tyres, plastics and pesticides.

PAH (Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon), which is released from cigarettes, car fumes, road tar, oil fossils, aviation fuels and diesel fumes, can disrupt gamete formation in men and women.

Men have a lot to worry about, no doubt.

Sperm seems to be more sensitive to heavy metals and industrial pollutants than eggs. Many sperm abnormalities have been linked to these toxins. The majority of these chemicals can be found in the atmosphere, on the ground in cities and in the waterways.

They have also been termed “repro toxicants” for their negative effects on sperm development and maturation. Studies have confirm that male sperm counts are declining and environmental factors, such as pesticides, exogenous estrogens (Xenoestrogens) and heavy metals may negatively impact spermatogenesis (formation of sperm).

The top six environmental toxins to avoid

Pesticides: found on non-organic fruit and vegetables, meat, dairy and unfiltered tap water

  1. Formaldehyde: found in air fresheners, deodorants, floor polish, upholstery cleaners
  2. Bisphenols: found in plastic containers and can leach into food and water.
  3. Organic solvents:petroleum based liquids found in household products, electronics, car repair, health care, photography, agriculture, printing, construction, and cosmetics. Dry-cleaning chemicals, paint fumes and much more. Occasional exposure to one or the other toxic chemical is not of concern. What is of concern is an accumulation of these chemicals over a long period.
  4. Don’t drink unfiltered tap water.Our waterways are constantly being polluted by industrial waste and by-products, pharmaceutical drugs, pesticides, herbicides and commercial cleaning products. There are many companies polluting the water regardless of the country you live in. Either there is no environmental law at all or there are loopholes in the law or there is no law for the XYZ chemical getting into the water.
  5. Heavy metals are the most common of the repro-toxins reaching our water supply through industrial waste, jet fuel exhaust residue and a variety of other sources. Pharmaceutical drugs are commonly found in tap water. 74 per cent of the US population takes prescription drugs. Because the drugs do not metabolise fully, small quantities are excreted via feces and urine and flushed away.

Toilet water is often treated and filtered before being discharged into lakes and rivers, thereby re-entering the water supply. The trouble is, many drugs are not filtered out via the regular filtration process. Minute quantities of chemotherapy drugs, contraceptive pills, antidepressants, anxiolytics, anabolic steroids, HRT (hormone replacement therapy), heart drugs, etc, have been found in tap water.

  1. Use a dual filtration system.Buy a dual filtration water system that filters particles smaller than 1 micron (this will filter out the drugs and heavy metals).
  2. Use the filter in your shower and your kitchen. Shower steam contains the same chemicals, which you can end up inhaling and can be absorbed through your skin.