Plastics have caused a sharp decline in fertility among men, leaving only one in four with “good” sperm, scientists say.

Chemicals called phthalates — found in plastics and products such as shower curtains, car dashboards and cleaning materials — can be breathed in, consumed or absorbed through the skin of pregnant women, inhibiting testosterone production in male foetuses, leading to sons with low sperm counts.

Other chemicals, known as PFCs and found in raincoats and non-stick pans, were also linked to poor-quality sperm. Niels Jørgensen, associate professor at Rigshospital, Copenhagen, told the European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology’s conference in Lisbon.

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