A plastics chemical linked to reduced fertility in men is in the majority of teenagers, research has found. More than 80 per cent of teenagers have traces of the chemical compound in their bodies, according to the study involving 94 young people aged between 17 and 19. The chemical known as Bisphenol A can be found in in plastic containers and water bottles, till receipts, on the inside of cans and bottle tops and in plastic packaging and tubing, and has similarities to female sex hormone estrogen. Previous research suggests that plastics can be linked to reduced sperm count but of course the plastics industry says it’s safe.
Participants in the study, students at Devon schools, tried to limit their contact with the chemical for a week through avoiding plastic packaging which contains BPA, switching to stainless steel and glass food and drink storage containers, and avoiding tinned food. The chemical has a relatively short half-life of six hours and passes out of the body quickly, but 86 per cent of students had traces in their bodies, with an average level of 1.9ng/ml, similar to levels recorded in other countries around the world. Overall they did not see a drop in their recorded levels, though some of those with the highest levels at the start of the study did experience some reduction. They also reported that it was difficult to avoid the chemical, because of unclear and inconsistent labeling and the difficulty of sourcing and identifying food which was free of it.