Microplastics 'penetrating' human testicles: new study

A new study has found a “ubiquitous” presence of microplastics in the testicles of humans and dogs.

The research, published last week discovered in the Oxford Academic Journal that all 47 dog and 23 human testicles examined had microplastics present.

The findings suggest there are potential consequences for male fertility.

Microplastic fragments have yet to be studied extensively, but researchers have found that they occur in many body parts.

Dr. John Yu, a toxicologist at the University of New Mexico College of Nursing, is the lead author of the study. He told NPR that quantifying microplastics is “the first step” in understanding the potential adverse effects of having microplastics “everywhere.”

Researchers at Yu's university in New Mexico collected testicles from autopsies of people aged 16 to 188 and from nearly 50 dogs after they had been neutered.

Yu said dogs were chosen as part of the experiment because they are so embedded in the human environment that they can function as “sentinel animals” for disease and chemical exposure.

Researchers solved the biological problem and about 75 percent of what remained in their samples was plastic. Most of it was polyethylene, which is used in packaging, bags and many products.

In the dogs, at least, there was a link between lower sperm counts and the presence of polyvinyl chloride, which is found in PVC pipes.

Yu told NPR that the results were “concerning,” but he hopes this will allow for more targeted studies into the relationship between semen and microplastics.

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