Ever hear of phthalates? They are esters that help plasticize things like rain coats and shower curtains, and they make body lotions smell nice. They also may be causing young men to develop in "several ways less completely masculine."
CBS' 60 Minutes yesterday aired a story about phthalates, and what they could be doing to people, and that shit was a little scary. Phthalates are in a lot of things—shampoos, carpets, car steering wheels and dashboards, meat, drinking water, and, one of the biggest sources, milk. Through plastic tubing at diary farms and into bottles and cartons, milk can transfer phthalates to pregnant women, who in turn could pass them on to their unborn child.
Before you start frantically throwing out phthalates in your house in order to preserve the dangle of your balls, just know that there is no requirement for manufacturers in the US to label them on their products because what you don't know, or what the FDA and EPA don't feel like telling you, can't hurt you, right? The EPA recently said that phthalates "may present a risk" to humans, which means that in another couple of years we'll probably find out that this stuff was deforming people's genitalia, causing cancer and a million other bad things all along.
Dr. Shanna Swan, an epidemiologist at the University of Rochester Medical School, says that after conducting tests among pregnant women who registered high levels of phthalates, "We found that the baby boys were in several subtle ways less completely masculine." This, she says, can lead to "hypospadias"—a urinary defect—in young boys. Dr. Swan's findings are bad, but there could be even worse.
A pediatric urologist at Children's Hospital in Philadelphia, Dr. Howard Snyder, told 60 Minutes:
Thirty, 40 years ago, the best data we had then was that hypospadias occurred in about one in every 300 live male births. It's up to now about one in 100. So there's been a threefold increase."
Snyder says he has seen the number of "un-descended testicles" double in his patients. He says that exposure to phthalates can also lower sperm counts and testosterone levels in males. But don't worry about what these doctors say, because the president of a lobbying group called the American Chemistry Council says phthalates are "absolutely safe." These doctors are probably part of the same conspiracy that told us the fun toys we played with as kids were painted with all sorts of poisonous lead, or that Park Slope baby slings are actually death traps, so take what they say with a big grain of phthalate-laden salt.
So there it is. Phthalates are in virtually everything, so we're all fucked and our kids will probably have non-dangly balls and other disturbing defects. I hope that Body Shop Peach Body Butter© was worth it!