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BBC's Rupert Wingfield-Hayes
"The main culprit, they say, is pollution"
 real 28k

Thursday, 9 November, 2000, 14:44 GMT
Shanghai pollution hits male fertility
Many Chinese cities, including Shanghai, are polluted
Severe pollution has caused a dramatic rise in male infertility in Shanghai, a new study published in the Shanghai Daily has found.

The study, by the Shanghai Family Planning Research Institute, found that sperm counts among men in the city have dropped 12% since 1987.

In a survey of 1,000 donors at the city's main sperm bank last year, only 20% had a sperm count that was highly fertile, the Shanghai Sperm Bank said.

Chinese man
Pesticides in vegetables have been blamed
Health officials have blamed pesticides which contaminate vegetables and other foods as well as higher stress levels, the paper reported.

The Shanghai survey follows a report last month in the China Daily newspaper, which claimed between 20% and 30% of Chinese men now suffer from some form of sexual dysfunction, including infertility and impotence.

Fertility problems are said to affect about 15% of all married couples, and of these cases, are third are down to the male partner.

'Environmental' hormone

Experts from the East China University of Science and Technology have pointed to a toxin found in pesticides and laundry detergents for the problem.

The toxin, called an "environmental hormone", is linked to impotency and premature puberty in both sexes, the experts told the paper.

Chinese children
1% of Chinese children reach puberty early
The hormone disrupts the endocrine system, upsetting the balance of the body's natural hormone levels, the experts said.

"Domestic pollution, including the use of plastic containers and chemical additives in foods, has negatively affected children's health," Wang Jian, a researcher from the institute, was quoted as saying.

About 1% of children in Shanghai reach puberty early.

Rapid economic growth in recent years in the country has been followed with a sharp increase in all types of pollution.

A survey of 46 major Chinese cities found only eight meet government standards for water and air pollution.

Many rivers are also said to be dying and about a third of the country suffers from acid rain.

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See also:

23 Oct 00 | Asia-Pacific
China's $18bn drought plan bill
06 Jun 00 | Asia-Pacific
China battles against sand invasion
03 Oct 00 | Asia-Pacific
Cyanide spill in Chinese river
03 Aug 00 | Asia-Pacific
China battles coal fires
12 Feb 98 | Despatches
China approves pollution budget
30 May 00 | Health
Driving linked to infertility
13 Sep 99 | Health
Ignorance over male infertility
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