Department of Public Health Sciences

Prospective surveillance of semen quality in the workplace

Schenker, M. B., S. J. Samuels, C. Perkins, E. L. Lewis, D. F. Katz and J. W. Overstreet

J Occup Med. 1988. 30(4):336-344.

We performed a prospective surveillance of semen quality among workers in the plant where 1,2-dibromo-3-chloropropane was first recognized as an occupational cause of impaired semen quality and of infertility. All male employees of the Agricultural Chemical Division were required to participate. Ninety-seven workers (92% participation) provided 258 semen samples over the 4 years of the program. Most samples were analyzed at the plant with a mini-laboratory designed for the study. Motility and shape measures were made objectively. Sixty-six subjects (68%) were non-azoospermic. Generalized multiple regression showed no significant predictors for any response, with the exception of the motility measures, which were reduced with longer times between ejaculation and assay. Between- and within-person standard deviations and correlations were calculated. Comparison of this population with fertile artificial insemination donors (16 men, 498 ejaculates) revealed generally higher ejaculate-to-ejaculate standard deviations in the worker samples. This is probably due to less well controlled conditions of sperm collection in the workplace setting. For cross- sectional studies, one ejaculate per worker is recommended as sufficient; for estimating an individual worker's mean, even three ejaculates may not provide enough precision.

Keywords: Environmental Exposure, Human, Insecticides, Organochlorine/*adverse effects, Male, Propane/*analogs & derivatives/adverse effects, Prospective Studies, Questionnaires, Semen/*drug effects, Sperm Count/drug effects, Support, Non-U.S. Gov't, Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

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