A study of reproductive hormone concentrations in males occupationally exposed to 4,4'-diaminostilbene-2,2'-disulfonic-acid (81118) (DAS) was conducted. The study was part of a NIOSH health hazard evaluation conducted in response to complaints of impotence and decreased libido among male employees at a facility that manufactured DAS. The study group consisted of 30 males currently exposed to DAS, 20 males who had been exposed to DAS in the past, but were no longer exposed to DAS, and 35 males working in an area where plastic additives were produced who were not exposed to DAS. Questionnaires were completed concerning demographic characteristics, smoking and drinking habits, work habits, occupational exposures, medical history related to decreased libido such as diabetes, thyroid disease, obesity, and use of certain medications, reproductive history, and whether they believed that workplace exposures could affect sex drive or fertility. Blood serum was analyzed for total and free testosterone, follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinizing hormone, and estradiol. The mean ages of the current and former DAS workers and controls were 45.9, 45.2, and 39.0 years (yr), respectively. The current DAS workers had worked in the DAS manufacturing area significantly longer than the former DAS workers and controls. Although the prevalence of subjects reporting ever fathering a pregnancy was similar across the groups, the proportion of current and former DAS workers who believed that workplace exposures could cause sexual problems was significantly greater than in the controls. Current and former DAS workers had significantly lower mean total testosterone concentrations than the controls, 458 and 442 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dl) versus 556ng/dl, respectively. Duration of employment in DAS manufacturing was significantly, inversely correlated with total testosterone concentrations. FSH concentrations were significantly lower in the former DAS workers than in the controls, 6.7 versus 10.3 milliInternational units per milliliter. The concentrations of the other hormones did not differ significantly across groups. The group mean concentrations of all hormones were within the clinically normal range. The authors conclude that, although the group mean testosterone and FSH concentrations are within clinically normal ranges, these data suggest that occupational exposure to DAS is associated with changes in male reproductive hormone concentrations.
Barbara Grajewski, CDC, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, DSHEFS, 4676 Columbia Parkway, R-15, Cincinnati, OH 45226