Organochloride Exposure And Reproductive Complications
Abnormalities in the chromosomes are one of the major causes of reproductive problems but role of environmental factors cannot be ignored. Ever wondered why certain occupational activities may affect your sexual health? Learn why and how insecticides and herbicide exposure can interfere with your reproductive health and destroy the health of your offspring.
Research and clinical studies suggests that occupational exposure to certain toxins and chemicals over extended period of time may permanently damage the reproductive health in both men and women. Besides affecting overall fertility, it can also aggravate the risk of fetal anomalies.
How Organochloride Chemicals Lead To Reproductive Dysfunction?
Organochloride chemicals have the ability to cross the blood-testis barrier without any difficulty and affect the reproductive health when exposed for extended periods of time. For example, Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) and Dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene (also referred to as DDE) are lipophilic, endocrine damaging, organochloride chemicals. These chemicals have shown to be linked with sperm abnormalities at the chromosomal level.
To confirm this association, investigators decided to conduct a thorough research. As part of the study, semen samples from 192 men (age range between 20 to 54 years) were collected from another study which was about environmental influence of toxins on the semen health. Nuclei scoring, FISH and sperm imaging tests were carried out on the collected samples to study the extent of DNA damage. The study was designed in a manner to investigate a possible link between organochloride chemical exposures and sperm or sex chromosome abnormalities.
Based on the result of analysis, it was observed that a non-linear dose-response relationship exists between toxin exposure and sexual health. For example, the chromosomal disorders were found to be highest in the men who were exposed to organochloride compounds as part of the occupational activities. Similar results were with PCB exposure (2).
One thing to be mentioned is that these samples were taken from sub-fertile men who actually came for their infertility evaluation and therefore, results may be different for normal males. Although, researchers believe that there is no such evidence yet that may suggest that exposure to these chemicals may yield different results in men with good reproductive health. Moreover, karyotyping was not done on regular basis for this study therefore, researchers cannot tell exactly if there were some other hidden fertility issues in the semen samples.
Does Organochloride Exposure In Women Affect Fetal Health?
Organochloride exposure during pregnancy may aggravate the risk of fetal complications as suggested by a number of studies. According to a new study, investigators discovered that exposure to these toxins during fetal life greatly affects the sexual development in male and female babies. Based on the data collected from 436 girls who were prenatally exposed to these toxins, it was observed that organochloride exposure can lead to these complications in female fetuses:
- Delayed sexual development (marked by delayed menarche or sexual maturation)
- Lower number of follicles
- Abnormal serum hormone levels
It is highly recommended to speak to your doctor at periodic intervals if you are exposed to an environmental toxin. Your doctor will not only monitor your physical health but will also obtain your serum measurements to see if these toxins are accumulating in your body.
- Kristensen, S. L., Ramlau-Hansen, C. H., Ernst, E., Olsen, S. F., Bonde, J. P., Vested, A., … & Toft, G. (2016). Prenatal exposure to persistent organochlorine pollutants and female reproductive function in young adulthood. Environment international, 92, 366-372.
- McAuliffe, M. E., Williams, P. L., Korrick, S. A., Altshul, L. M., & Perry, M. J. (2012). Environmental Exposure to Polychlorinated Biphenyls and p, p”-DDE and Sperm Sex-Chromosome Disomy. Environmental Health Perspectives, 120(4), 535.
- Freire, C., Koifman, R. J., Sarcinelli, P. N., Rosa, A. C. S., Clapauch, R., & Koifman, S. (2014). Association between serum levels of organochlorine pesticides and sex hormones in adults living in a heavily contaminated area in Brazil. International journal of hygiene and environmental health, 217(2), 370-378.