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Sperm on the run

A recent study found that the average human sperm count has decreased by 40 per cent over the past 50 years. As public anxiety grows about infertility, environmentalists are blaming man-made chemical pollutants. Faith Brooke takes a look at the confusing scientific evidence behind their claim

By Faith Brooke   March 1996

Are our gonads shrivelling? Is our sperm count falling, and are our sexual organs prone to cancers, malformations and misfunctions of a kind our fathers did not suffer? Are the man-made chemicals which are part of modern life to blame for these reproductive woes?

A nightmarish vision of a future Britain, whose middle-aged people have stopped bearing children and who are growing old in the bleak knowledge that their species will die out with them, is the backdrop for PD James’s novel The Children of Men. But her fears are not just the product of one writer’s imagination.

The subject…

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