All over the world sperm count in humans has declined by over 50 per cent in the last 30 years. In India, studies involving more than 1600 men, both fertile and infertile, over the past 15 years have shown a decrease by 43 per cent in sperm count . In the 1950s and 1960s, a sperm count of 60 million/ml was considered normal, whereas 20 million/ml is considered normal today, notes Kamala Gopalakrishnan of the Institute of Reproductive Research, Mumbai.
"Fundamental research points to harmful environmental influences, stress and pollution causing damage to the reproductive tract," Kamala Gopalakrishnan notes. Smoking and contamination of food with environmental toxins and heavy metals lead to impotence. Hydrocarbons containing chlorine such as polychlorinated biphenyl (PCBs) which are used in electric transformers and pesticides like dicnloro-dimethyl-trichloroethane (DDT) are known "endocrine disrupters". They disrupt the hormonal system in the body.
These toxins persist in nature without degrading for decades and they can travel thousands of kilometres through water and food. So their effect is not limited to people who use them. Scientists have seen DDT traces in penguins of Antarctica and PCBs in the fat of Inuit people living in the Arctic. Some of these chemicals affect even the gender characteristics of unborn children.