Posted on August 12th, 2020
Some chemicals are often referred to generally as "reprotoxic substances." They include various potentially harmful chemical agents, e.g., metals, some solvents, and other chemicals. If they are inhaled or ingested, these reprotoxic substances may impair male or female reproductive functions or capacity.
Hundreds of locations across the country, including military facilities where thousands of active-duty service members and their families live and work, have been contaminated for years with a variety of chemicals used in regular military tasks, such as storage and dispensing of liquid petroleum fuels, cleaning, and degreasing activities, sewage collection, and treatment, and other hazardous waste storage and disposal.
For instance, Dallas Naval Base is among the 700 active or closed military installations nationwide. The use of toxic chemicals has contaminated or is suspected of contaminating water on bases and nearby communities with chemicals ranging from organic cleaning solvents and degreasers to explosives and firefighting foam. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, exposure to these chemicals may cause sexual dysfunction, congenital abnormalities, and cancers of the reproductive organs.
There are many other active or closed military installations spanning across the United States with known or suspected toxic contamination, including:
12 pounds of elemental mercury were found in a pipe at Hadnot Point - located in the geographic center of Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune. Elemental mercury does not naturally degrade in the environment. Once in the environment, mercury persists and can cycle between air, soil, plants, and animals for extended periods.
Some chemicals with hormonal activity, so-called endocrine disrupters, may alter the function of the endocrine system and consequently cause adverse reproductive effects. For example, researchers warn that benzene - another toxic contaminant identified at Camp Lejeune - may disrupt people's hormone systems at levels deemed "safe" for use.
Effects of the hazardous contaminants on the reproductive system of men and women can manifest as:
Exposure to chemicals that contain high toxicity levels can cause direct cell damage in the developing sperm and eggs. In addition, maternal exposure during pregnancy may disturb fetal development by either directly or indirectly interfering with maternal, placental, or fetal membrane functions. The mother's ingestion of harmful substances may also cause contamination of her breast milk.