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Reproductive hazards in the workplace: development of epidemiologic research.

Landrigan PJ; Melius JM; Rosenberg MJ; Coye MJ; Binkin NJ
Scand J Work Environ Health 1983 Apr; 9(2):83-88
Epidemiologic studies on occupational reproductive hazards including pesticide workers exposed to 1,2-dibromo-3-chloropropane (96128) (DBCP), spontaneous abortions among office workers exposed to video display terminals, and impotence in male workers employed in manufacturing diamino-stilbene (41380750) (DAS) were performed. Thirty five field workers involved in applying DBCP (a nematocide), 27 tractor maintenance personnel, and 29 plantation workers not exposed were subjected to industrial hygiene and prospective medical evaluation including sperm count. Spontaneous abortions in 22 pregnant office workers exposed to video display terminals were studied using fetal life tables. Industrial hygiene survey, personal medical interview, and chemical analyses of blood samples were done on DAS workers. Impotence was defined as a failure rate of 25 percent or greater to achieve erection during sexual intercourse. Exposure of low concentration of DBCP produced no significant effect on sperm count. A mean decline of sperm count in the field workers and the maintenance workers were 1.0 and 1.1 million sperms per milliliter of semen, respectively; comparisons had a mean decline of 1.172 million sperms per milliliter. Life table analysis showed six spontaneous abortions among pregnant office workers. A definite clustering time, a 14 month period between May 1979 and June 1980, was observed for pregnancies involving spontaneous abortions. Neither geographic clustering effect nor any association between amount of video display terminal use and adverse pregnancy outcome were evident. Eighteen percent of workers in DAS manufacture were diagnosed as impotent, 10 percent had some difficulty in sustaining erection and 8 percent reported past impotence. Affected workers reported more paresthesia and genitourinary symptoms. Serum testosterone was depressed, with values less than 300 milligrams per milliliter in 8 out of 28 workers exposed to DAS. The authors conclude that extremely large samples are needed to investigate associations between industrial exposure and most adverse reproductive outcomes.
NIOSH-Author; Epidemiology; Pesticides-and-agricultural-chemicals; Occupational-exposure; Chemical-industry-workers; Agricultural-workers; Office-workers; Computer-equipment; Halogenated-hydrocarbons; Fertility; Reproductive-hazards; Author Keywords: dibromochloropropane; DBCP; epidemiology; male infertility; optical brighteners; sperm counts; video display terminals; cathade ray tubes
Dr PJ Landrigan, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 4676 Columbia Parkway, Cincinnati, OH 45226
96-12-8; 41380-75-0
Publication Date
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Journal Article
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NIOSH Division
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Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment & Health
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division