Having no appeal

Polychlorinated aromatic hydrocarbons retard children's sexual maturation

Published: Tuesday 15 October 2002

A study carried out by a number of Belgium universities has shown that even a moderate exposure to pollutants like polychlorinated aromatic hydrocarbons (pahs) can retard sexual maturation in children. Till date only occupational or accidental exposure had been implicated for such problems. The study was conducted on 200 adolescents living in two polluted areas and a rural unpolluted area. To test the effect of pahs, markers such as levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (pcbs) and dioxin-like compounds were measured in the blood. Trained school physician took blood samples along with measuring testicular volume.

In boys, genital development and pubic hair growth was inversely proportional to the amount of pcb markers in the blood. Testicular volume was also lower in boys living in polluted areas. Even in girls, small breasts were related to the higher amount of dioxins in their blood. According to the authors, the results suggest that measures to control environmental pollution are insufficient.

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