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workers, building, architect

NORA Manufacturing Sector Strategic Goals

92700A1 - Reproductive Health Assessment of Male Workers

Start Date: 10/1/2004
End Date: 9/30/2009

Principal Investigator (PI)
Name: Steven Schrader
Phone: 513-533-8210
Organization: NIOSH
Sub-Unit: DART
Funded By: Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

Primary Goal Addressed

Secondary Goal Addressed


Attributed to Manufacturing


Project Description

Short Summary

Reproductive Health Assessment of Male Workers is an ongoing project with the primary goal of assessing reproductive health hazards. Reproductive health hazards are evaluated using a health profile consisting of biomarkers for assessing male fecundity. For FY08, work will complete analyses on the Longitudinal Investigation of Fertility and the Environment (LIFE) project, which is a collaborative effort between NIOSH and the NICHD/NIH. This research addresses concerns in the Manufacturing Sector. A male reproductive health study of non-human primates exposed to methylphenidate will continue in FY09. A Workplace Solutions document will be developed from studies of bicycling police officers in the Public Safety Subsector.


The goals of this project are three-fold. The first is to identify and prioritized potential reproductive hazards in the work place. The second is to update the reproductive health profile measures as new technology develops. Finally, another goal of the project is to conduct occupational field investigations of work sites where men are working with potential reproductive hazards. One of the major steps in the implementation of new assays in the reproductive health profile is establishment of baseline data and the normal variation among working aged men. Potential reproductive hazards have been and will be investigated using the male reproductive health profile developed by NIOSH. These studies are often in collaboration with partners from other agencies and universities wishing to utilize the health profile and the expertise of NIOSH researchers. This project supports the NIOSH contribution to these larger studies. An interagency agreement with the NIH/National Institute for Child Health and Human Development has been established to assess the reproductive profile of couples attempting conception in Texas and Michigan which was conducted during FY05-08. During FY09 analytical and statistical analyses will be completed. This effort will provide important information in the study of infertility and provide excellent baseline data for future occupational field studies. A method for shipping semen samples overnight with ability to assess motility has been developed. Approximately 500 couples were recruited in this study. In FY09, a new interagency agreement has been established with FDA/NCTR to evaluate the reproductive health of male non-human primates exposed to methylphenidate. The NIOSH field team is one of a few with expertise in the collection and analyses of semen from non-human primates. The intervention study on reproductive health of bicycling police officers was completed in FY07. The results were published in FY08. A Workplace Solutions document will be created and disseminated in FY09. While the male reproductive assessment profile developed by NIOSH has been used in many field investigations and is often sought by research partners in collaborative studies, this profile must be modified as our understanding of reproductive biology evolves and technology advances.


• Track research publications by NIOSH authors involved in project.

• Track NIOSH web site hits for reproductive health related pages.

• Monitor Pub Med to determine if researchers and public health officials are using NIOSH reproductive health assessment methods to monitor worker exposures to reproductive hazards.

• Follow-up with departments and sites where field sites were conducted to determine if changes were made as result of NIOSH study.

• The distribution of the Workplace Solution for no-nose saddles will be monitored to determine interest in this intervention

• Continued attendance at the International Police Mountain Bike Association's annual meeting with an information booth will follow the interest and acceptance in the no-nose saddle intervention.

Mission Relevance

Infertility affects more than 20% of married couples. Healthcare costs related to infertility and reproductive dysfunction has greatly increased in recent years. This project is unique within the Institute, the only project focused on assessing reproductive health of working men using specific, sensitive biological monitoring methods, including quantifying endocrine and semen analysis. Reproductive dysfunction is a silent malady not readily detected or discussed by workers. The project crosscuts sectors but this fiscal year is focusing on manufacturing strategic goal 9 (Enhance the state of knowledge related to emerging risks to occupational safety and health in manufacturing 09PPMNFSG9). Manufacturing of industrial and biomedical products can expose workers to chemicals and agents detrimental to their reproductive health. Because this is often an unrecognized effect which goes undetected; it is an emerging illness the occupational safety and health of manufacturing. This project also addresses public workers in the Services Sector/Public Safety Subsector strategic goal 5 (09PPSPSSG5): Evaluate information sources collected by partners or stakeholders that may be enhanced or expanded to conduct effective occupational health and safety surveillance among law enforcement workers and Research Goal 5.2.3 (09PPSPSAOG5.2.3): By 2013, systematically collect and evaluate available information on exposures to chemical, physical and biological agents that are associated with law enforcement activities such as clandestine drug site investigation, hazardous material response, suspect or convicted offender contact, weapon firing and crime laboratories to identify the gaps in reliable exposure information.

The project is within the Cross-Sector of Cancer, Reproductive, and Cardiovascular Diseases addressing Reproductive Strategic Goal 3 but specifically Activity/Output Goal 3.1.2. (09PPCRCAOG3.1.2); Conduct studies of high-priority exposures to identify and quantify risk of adverse reproductive health associated with workplace exposures and Activity/Output Goal 3.2.1. (09PPCRCAOG3.2.1); Transfer research findings, technologies, and information into practice (1.2.a.a) by publishing in technical and trade journals and develop workplace or trade documents to enhance the relevance and utility of interventions and recommendations; Cross-Sector of Exposure Assessment Intermediate Goal 2.4 (09PPEXAIG2.4): by developing biomonitoring methods including biomarkers that are useful for mixed exposures and Activity/Output 2.4.3 (09PPEXAAOG2.4.3): Application of these methods to evaluate occupational exposure and the Cross-Sector of Authoritative Recommendations Strategic Goal 1 (09PPAURSG1): Reduce and prevent occupational injuries, illnesses, and fatalities by supporting NORA sector and cross-sector programs in the development of authoritative recommendations.

This project targets all three NIOSH Strategic Plan goals; and meets the research goals of the Branch and Division to reduce work-related illnesses and injuries through laboratory and field studies by conducting reproductive health assessments of workers exposed to workplace hazards. As new toxicity data, industrial processes, and applications unfold, emerging workplace hazards need to be addressed. Cooperative partnerships within the government and with industry are being established to identify exposures and potential occupational disease more effectively. Work site studies will be conducted from the prioritized chemicals and studies with our partners assessing male reproductive health. A proven way to study male reproductive health is development of a profile of biomarkers that assess different aspects of male reproductive health. The profile is an essential tool for occupational field investigations. The NIOSH reproductive health assessment team has developed such a profile, and has used it many times in worker population studies to assess potential occupational hazards to male reproductive health. As the scientific field and technology advances, new clinical methods evolve. These new methods must typically be modified and validated for use in occupational field studies.