Phthalates and AGD

I usually don’t get alarmed about the dangers of toxic chemicals in the environment. The risks are all too often exaggerated, and inadvertently ingesting a little arsenic in a glass of water or accidentally breathing in a few particles of benzene from the air can hardly compare to the amount of toxins I get from all the cigarettes and alcohol I ingest on purpose. But I have become alarmed about phthalates.

Phthalates are industrial chemicals found in all sorts of ordinary household products - adhesives, cosmetics, some types of wallpaper and flooring, many kinds of furniture, even toys. Scientists have discovered that boys whose mothers were exposed to high levels of phthalates while pregnant are likely to be born with shrunken taints.

I truly wish I were joking about this, but the link between shrunken taints and phthalates appears all too real.1

Why is no one speaking out about this? Must there be the tragedy of an entire generation of men born with tiny taints before something is done? Won’t someone think of the taints?

1 The scientific term for shrunken taint is "reduced anogenital distance", or AGD.


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  6. I'm afraid the account given by the Wall Street Journal (and other media organizations who covered the initial release of the Swann study) of the risks to male reproductive health from phthalates are not borne out by careful scrutiny of the actual data. I would urge anyone reading this to check out our article on the WSJ piece at

    We are a non-profit research center affiliated with George Mason University in Virginia.

    -- Best, Trevor Butterworth, Editor.

  7. This research certainly explores new ground. I have not heard reference to the "taint" in the male context before, and I am thankful for that. Be that as it may, I am not sure why reduced phthalates in men is of concern. Certainly , in women, it could lead to confusion, as allegedly experienced by the hero of the show "Madame Butterfly"(although I always had my doubts about that) that is , the confusion of procreation with mere buggery.In men, the condition seems harmless enough, although perhaps too novel.


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