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Occupational Pesticide Exposure and Semen Quality Among Chinese Workers

Padungtod, Chantana MD, DrPH; Savitz, David A. PhD; Overstreet, James W. MD, PhD; Christiani, David C. MD, MPH, MS; Ryan, Louise M. PhD; Xu, Xiping MD, PhD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: October 2000 - Volume 42 - Issue 10 - p 982-992
Original Articles

This study investigated the association between occupational pesticide exposure and semen quality among Chinese workers. Male workers, 32 who were exposed to organophosphate pesticides and 43 who were not exposed were recruited from two nearby factories and interviewed. Following a work shift, semen and urine samples were collected for pesticide metabolite analysis. Semen samples were analyzed for sperm concentration, percentage of motility, and percentage of normal structure. Within the exposed group, the mean end-of-shift urinary p-nitrophenol levels were 0.22 and 0.15 mg/L for the high- and low-exposure subgroups, respectively. Linear regression analysis of individual semen parameters revealed a significant reduction of sperm concentration (35.9 × 106 vs 62.8 × 106, p < 0.01) and percentage of motility (47% vs 57%, p = 0.03) but not percentage of sperm with normal structure (57% vs 61%, p = 0.13). Multivariate modeling showed a significant overall shift in the mean semen parameter. Occupational exposure to ethylparathion and methamidophos seems to have a moderately adverse effect on semen quality.

From the Occupational Health Program (Dr Padungtod, Dr Christiani, Dr Xu) and the Department of Biostatistics (Dr Ryan), Harvard School of Public Health; the Department of Epidemiology, University of North Carolina School of Public Health (Dr Savitz); the Institute of Toxicology and Environmental Health, University of California, Davis (Dr Overstreet); Massachusetts General Hospital (Dr Christiani) and Channing Laboratory, Brigham and Women’s Hospital (Dr Xu), Harvard Medical School; and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Division of Biostatistics, Boston (Dr Ryan).

Address correspondence to: Dr Xiping Xu, Harvard School of Public Health, Department of Environmental Health, 665 Huntington Avenue, FXB-101, Boston, MA 02115; e-mail

© 2000 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.