According to leading epidemiologist and environmental scientist Dr Shanna Swan, penises around the world are shrinking, and pollution is to blame. Humanity is facing an “existential crisis”, she explains in her new book Count Down: How Our Modern World Is Threatening Sperm Counts, Altering Male and Female Reproductive Development, and Imperilling the Future of the Human Race. It all comes down to phthalates, a chemical used in manufacturing plastics that impacts the hormone-producing endocrine system. Because of this pollution, Dr Swan says, fertility rates are rapidly falling – and a growing number of babies are being born with smaller penises. Dr. Swan said “Chemicals in our environment and unhealthy lifestyle practices in our modern world are disrupting our hormonal balance, causing various degrees of reproductive havoc,” Dr Swan, who is a professor in environmental medicine and public health at the Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, based her work on a series of peer-reviewed studies. She began her research by examining phthalate syndrome in rats whose foetuses were exposed to the chemical. She discovered that the rat babies were more likely to be born with shrunken genitals – and the same was true in male human babies, too.