Exposure to organochloride pesticides affects semen quality

EurekAlert, Mar. 22, 2011

According to a study conducted at the University of Granada, combined exposure to organochlorides significantly alters semen quality in young people from South East Spain. Having a low number of spermatozoa taking the levels established by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a reference can delay fertilization.

The most common means of exposure to pesticides among the general population is through food and other household products. From the 18 pesticides found in the participants’ blood, some are forbidden in Spain, as DDT, although others as the fungicide called vinclozolin –employed in vineyards and citrus groves– are legal in this country.

While exposure to certain organochlorides proved to increase total spermatic number and total sperm motility levels, other pesticides have the adverse effects and are associated to a reduction in these levels. This might be due to the fact that some pesticides are considered to be slightly estrogenic endocrine disruptors –as it is the case of endosulfan sulphate, lindane and p,p-DDT–, while others combine their clearly antiadrogenic activity to a weak estrogenic activity –as it is the case of p,p-DDE and vinclozolin.

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