Penises are shrinking and genitals becoming malformed because of pollution, an environmental scientist has warned in a new book detailing the challenges facing human reproduction.

Dr Shanna Swan writes that humanity is facing an “existential crisis” in fertility rates as a result of phthalates, a chemical used when manufacturing plastics that impacts the hormone-producing endocrine system.

As a result of this pollution, a growing number of babies are being born with small penises, Dr Swan writes.

Her book, titled Count Down, examines “how our modern world is threatening sperm counts, altering male and female reproductive development, and imperilling the future of the human race”.

Dr Swan’s research began by examining phthalate syndrome, something observed in rats which found that when fetuses were exposed to the chemical they were likely to be born with shrunken genitals.

She discovered that male human babies who had been exposed to the phthalates in the womb had a shorter anogenital distance – something that correlated with penile volume.

The chemical has an industrial use in making plastics more flexible, but Dr Swan says it is being transmitted into toys and foods and subsequently harms human development.

Phathalates mimic the hormone oestrogen and thus disrupt the natural production of hormones in the human body, which researchers have linked to interference in sexual development in infants and behaviours in adults.

Dr Swan, who is a professor in environmental medicine and public health at the Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, based her work on a series of peer-reviewed research studies.

One study published in 2017 found that sperm levels among men in Western countries had dropped by more than 50% over the past four decades after examining 185 studies involving close to 45,000 healthy men.

Dr Swan believes that the rapidly decreasing fertility rate means that most men will be unable to produce viable sperm by 2045.


Born in the – 1950s 1970s 1990s – now!!

It may sound like a joke, but this research shows the full extent of how much we are
damaging reproductive health. – Copyright Euronews
By Marthe de Ferrer
Updated: 23/03/2021 – 16:50
In case you needed another reason to care about the climate crisis, it has been found that
pollution is causing human penises to shrink.
A leading epidemiologist and environmental scientist has published a book which examines
the link between industrial chemicals and penile length.
Dr Shanna Swan’s book, Count Down, argues that our modern world is altering humans’
reproductive development and threatening the future of our species.
The book outlines how pollution is leading to higher rates of erectile dysfunction, fertility
decline, and growing numbers of babies born with small penises. Though the headline fact
about shrinkage may sound like a laughing matter, the research paints a bleak portrait of
humanity’s longevity and ability to survive.
“In some parts of the world, the average twenty-something today is less fertile than her
grandmother was at 35,” Dr Swan writes, dubbing the situation a “global existential crisis” in
the book.
“Chemicals in our environment and unhealthy lifestyle practices in our modern world are
disrupting our hormonal balance, causing various degrees of reproductive havoc.”
According to the book, humans meet three of the five possible criteria used to define whether
or not a species is endangered. “Only one needs to be met,” writes Dr Swan, “the current state
of affairs for humans meets at least three.”

According to Dr Swan’s research, this disruption is caused by phthalates, chemicals used in
plastic manufacturing, which can impact how the hormone endocrine is produced.
This group of chemicals is used to help increase the flexibility of a substance. They can be
found in toys, food packaging, detergents, cosmetics, and many more products. But Dr Swan
believes that these substances are radically harming human development.
“Babies are now entering the world already contaminated with chemicals because of the
substances they absorb in the womb,” she says. Much of Dr Swan’s recent work has focused
on the effects of phthalates, initially looking at phthalate syndrome in rats.
In 2000, however, there was a breakthrough in the field, and it became possible to measure
low doses of phthalates in humans.
Since then Dr Swan has authored papers on how these chemicals can pass between parents
and their offspring, the impact on female sexual desire, and – most recently – on penile
One of her most famous studies examined the intersection between sperm count and
pollution in 2017, in ground-breaking research which looked at men’s fertility over the last
four decades. After studying 185 studies involving almost 45,000 health men, Dr Swan and
her team concluded that sperm counts among men in Western countries had dropped by 59
per cent between 1973 and 2011.
But there is some good news. Since the creation of the European Environment
Agency, European citizens are exposed to 41 per cent less particulate pollution than we
were two decades ago. It’s believed that these regulations have gifted Europeans an extra nine
months of life expectancy, on average.
“A demand for change from citizens and subsequent strong policies have helped to clear the
air in parts of Europe before, and can continue to do so to ensure that high pollution today
does not need to be tomorrow’s fate,” says Michael Greenstone, director of the Energy
Politics Institute at the University of Chicago.
So if pollution reduction measures can be properly implemented, there is still hope for the
future and humanity’s fertility.


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