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Semen quality in workers exposed to 2-ethoxyethanol.

Ratcliffe JM; Schrader SM; Clapp DE; Halperin WE; Turner TW; Hornung RW
Br J Ind Med 1989 Jun; 46(6):399-406
A study of the effect of occupational exposure to 2-ethoxyethanol (110805) (2EE) on semen quality was conducted. The cohort consisted of 50 males exposed to 2EE in a metal casting company that manufactured precision cast parts. The comparisons consisted of 50 males employed by the same company who were not exposed to 2EE. The subjects completed a questionnaire to obtain information on demographic characteristics, tobacco, alcohol, and caffeine use, medical and work histories, and possible exposures to chemical and physical hazards. They were given a urogenital tract examination. Thirty seven exposed workers and 39 comparisons provided semen samples which were analyzed for pH, volume, sperm concentration, viability, motility, velocity, morphology, and morphometry. Breathing zone samples were collected and analyzed for 2EE. Urine samples were collected and analyzed for 2-ethoxyacetic-acid (627032) (EAA), a 2EE metabolite. Time weighted average breathing zone 2EE concentrations ranged from nondetectable to 24 parts per million (ppm), with an overall mean of 6.6ppm. All but two urine samples contained detectable amounts of EAA, which ranged from 16 to 163 milligrams per gram creatinine. The questionnaire data and urogenital examination findings did not differ significantly between groups. The average sperm count on a per ejaculate basis of the exposed workers was significantly lower than that of the comparisons, 113 million versus 154 million after correcting for possible confounding factors such as age, sample age, abstinence, tobacco, alcohol, or caffeine use. 2EE did not exert a significant effect on any of the other parameters of semen quality. The authors conclude that 2EE exerts a possible effect on sperm counts in workers exposed to 2EE at concentrations considerable below the current OSHA standard of 200ppm. 2EE does not affect any other parameter of sperm morphology or function. Since other factors could affect the semen quality or the result could be reflecting a bias due to the small number of subjects, additional studies should be conducted to confirm the finding.
NIOSH-Author; Glycols; Occupational-exposure; Urinalysis; Metabolites; Reproductive-effects; Body-fluids; Industrial-factory-workers
110-80-5; 627-03-2
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British Journal of Industrial Medicine
Page last reviewed: October 26, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division