I was watching a repeat on SBS TV "Men in Danger", yesterday. It was fascinating! As usual, I thought about how you could use this topic with Biology (Life Sciences), or, Chemistry with students in Years 11 - 12, or, Biochemistry students at university as a WebQuest.
Here is a review of the program: "This is a program which looks at some of the factors which may explain why sperm production in males has dropped 50% in 50 years, and explores an important question currently facing scientists; could chemical molecules in our environment be affecting our ability to reproduce?
Aside from the huge drop in the amount of sperm production over the last five decades, scientists have also recorded a dramatic rise in the number of testicular cancers and a disturbing increase in the number of congenital malformations in male reproductive organs - two trends echoed in wildlife studies. This suggests the cause is environmental and not genetic. For Niels Skakkebaek, Danish doctor and researcher, the male reproductive and infertility problems we are currently facing are 'as important as global warming.'
All these findings suggest chemicals being used in agriculture and the manufacture of everyday products such as toys, packaging, clothing and cosmetics are capable of producing effects in the human body, similar to the effects of oestrogen. Substances such as DDT, phthalates and pesticides can be particularly dangerous during pregnancy and if they reach the male reproductive system, can result in the feminisation of male embryos.
As Professor Shanna Swan, an Epidemiologist at Rochester University (U.S.A) states "In our modern world we have 85, 000 chemicals in commerce - most of which we don't know anything about. We don't know their carcinogenic potential, their reproductive potential, their effect on our immune systems, on our metabolisms and so on. So we need to get busy, and start understanding what we're being exposed to because we're all in this massive experiment."
Men In Danger looks at bizarre and worrying findings and events which no one thought - or dared - to connect to each other in the past. From the swamps of Florida to the sophisticated laboratories of renowned biologists, the documentary shows the human face of research, where important discoveries are often made by accident and good luck. (From France, in English) (Science) (Source: EnhanceTV)
This program showed that there could be a great WebQuest around this topic - there was conflict with the pharmaceutical companies; conflict between scientists; and, concerns about what could be seen within the vertebrates in wild populations and the effects of plastics and phthalates, in particular, on humans as endocrine disruptors.
Effects of Pollutants on the Reproductive Health of Male Vertebrate Wildlife - Males Under Threat.
Males of All Species Are Becoming More Female.