Gender Bender

Plastic Toxins 'Feminize' Boys

Real men drink their water straight from the faucet, perhaps? Scientists at the University of Rochester say that chemicals in plastic, called phthalates, have the ability to disrupt hormones and alter brain chemistry, causing boys to be less likely to play in a masculine way. The study found that boys exposed to two types of phthalates in the womb—DEHP and DBP—were less likely to play with cars, trains, and guns and were less likely to roughhouse. Certain phthalates, which are found in a wide variety of household items, including plastic furniture and packaging, are known to mimic estrogen, but for the first time, the study suggests that some phthalates also block testosterone.