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Contrasting associations of blood and semen lead concentrations with semen quality among lead smelter workers.
Alexander BH; Checkoway H; Faustman EM; Van Netten C; Muller CH; Ewers TG
Am J Ind Med 1998 Nov; 34(5):464-469
While blood lead concentration has been inversely associated with indicators of reproductive health in occupationally exposed male workers, the utility of lead concentration in semen as an indicator of lead exposure to the male reproductive system has not been fully explored. Blood and semen lead concentrations from 81 lead smelter workers were examined in relation to semen quality and endocrine function parameters. Mean blood and semen lead concentrations were 22.8 micrograms/dl (range 5-58) and 1.9 micrograms/dl (range 0.1-17.6), respectively. Total sperm count and concentration decreased with increasing blood lead concentration; p for trend was 0.003 and 0.009, respectively. Semen lead concentration was inversely related to total sperm count (p = 0.05), ejaculate volume (p = 0.001), and serum testosterone (p = 0.004), but not to sperm concentration. The association between semen lead concentration and total sperm count was eliminated when volume was included in the model. Blood lead concentration was more consistently associated with indicators of sperm production than was semen lead. In contrast, semen lead concentration was negatively associated with circulating testosterone concentrations. Our findings indicate that measurement of semen lead may not be a valuable adjunct to conventional blood lead monitoring for investigations of male reproductive system toxicity.
Occupational-exposure; Exposure-levels; Blood-analysis; Lead-compounds; Workers; Work-environment; Smelters; Epidemiology; Biomarkers; Reproductive-effects; Demographic-characteristics; Sex-factors; Reproductive-system-disorders; Author Keywords: lead; semen; blood; sperm; smelter; reproductive health; epidemiology; biomarkers
Bruce H. Alexander, Department of Environmental Health, Box 358772, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195
Issue of Publication
Other Occupational Concerns
American Journal of Industrial Medicine
University of Washington, Seattle, Washington
Page last reviewed: August 1, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division