Plastic Trash as Reproductive Health Hazard Topic of Feb. 3 WSU Common Reading Lecture by Geneticist Patricia Hunt

PULLMAN, Wash.—Washington State University’s Patricia Hunt is an expert on how plastics impact reproductive mechanisms in humans and other animals. At 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 3, she will discuss “Are We Trashing Our Reproductive Health” with a Common Reading Tuesdays audience in the Smith Center for Undergraduate Education (CUE) 203. The public is welcome to attend at no charge.

“Our disposable society generates tons of plastic trash that pollutes our oceans, fills our landfills, and litters our daily environment, and it’s more than just a garbage problem – it’s a health hazard,” Hunt said.

Hunt is a Meyer Distinguished Professorship in the College of Arts and Sciences, on faculty in the School of Molecular Biosciences in the College of Veterinary Medicine, and researches mammalian germ cells in the Center for Reproductive Biology.

In her presentation she will discuss evidence gathered over years of her scientific research that the chemicals that migrate out of plastics are impacting reproductive health including sperm counts and egg development. Can plastics be responsible to some degree event for the behavior of our children?

Hunt has become a world-renowned researcher into the plasticizer bisphenol A (BPA).  She has proven that even exposure to low doses (that mimic current levels of human exposure) cause significant changes in a developing fetus. There is also good evidence that BPA has led to an increase in diseases like breast and prostate cancers in adults.

Legislation has banned BPA-containing food and beverage containers in much of the U.S.

Hunt’s lecture ties to topics raised in this year’s Common Reading book, “Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair with Trash,” by Edward Humes. WSU students encounter the book in several first-year and other classes in disciplines across campus. The Common Reading is designed to create a common academic ground and dialogue for all participants, including students, faculty, staff, and the community.

“Garbology” is the eighth Common Reading book in as many years at the university. Hunt was also a guest speaker for the 2013-14 lecture series on the Common Reading book “Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error,” by Kathryn Schulz.

CONTACT: Karen Weathermon, Co-Director, Common Reading Program in the WSU Office of Undergraduate Education, 509-335-5488,