LAHORE - The renowned Pakistani scientist Dr Kazim R Chohan from Medical University of Syracuse, New York (USA) has said that inadvertent exposure to chemicals in the environment might predispose birth defects and reproductive failure in both males and females. According to a Press release, Dr Kazim was delivering a lecture on the "Effects of Environment on Human Reproduction" at the University of Health Sciences (UHS) on Thursday. UHS Vice Chancellor Prof Malik Hussain Mubbashar, senior faculty members and a large number of students attended the lecture. Dr Kazim said that infertility now affected 15-20 per cent couples in industrialised countries compared to 7-8 per cent in early 60s. He added that because of environmental factors, girls were reaching puberty at an earlier age in some parts of the world whereas the number of boys born compared to the number of girls had shown declines in several regions. Dr Kazim said that every year more than 100,000 new chemicals were produced worldwide. There were chemicals in the workplace, chemicals in the environment (from air pollution and from carelessly disposed materials that contaminate the land, water supply, or food chain), and food additives. He said that exposure to these chemicals and other low-level environmental contaminants such as phthalates, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), dioxins and pesticides might subtly undermine our ability to reproduce. He informed that most common chemical compound hazardous to human reproductive health was bisphenol A used in plastic bottles, baby milk bottles, CDs, glass eye lenses, lining of food cans and dental sealants. Phthalates were found in toys, shampoos, vinyl flooring, lotions and cosmetics, whereas nonylphenol were used in detergents, lubricants, paints, etc. He also said that smoking and excessive use of cell phones and laptop computers adversely effects male fertility. Dr Kazim claimed that there was no grading system for bisphenol A in plastic bottles in Pakistan. He advised that women should use stainless steel utensils in kitchen instead of non-stick pans, which again contained hazardous toxic chemicals. Dr Kazim Chohan further said that effects of smoking on male reproductive health included decreased sperm motility, low sperm count, increased abnormal morphology, impaired sperm function and increased sperm DNA damage. He further said that compounds that decrease male fertility by toxic action on the tests and sperm included lead, DBCP, kepone, and cholroprene. Dr Kazim stated that there could be various factors involved in infertility in both men and women. Male factors might include low sperm count and sperm abnormalities, such as altered morphology and low motility. Female factor stemmed from ovulation problems such as premature ovarian failure (early menopause), thyroid irregularities, polycystic ovarian syndrome, and fallopian tube obstruction. But up to 10 per cent of infertility could not be explained medically, he added. Earlier, UHS VC Prof MH Mubbashar said the research had shown that people who smoke cannabis, their offspring had low IQ. He added that spiritual stimuli could improve our physical, spiritual as well as mental health.