Author(s): Tina Kold Jensen, Jens Peter Bonde, Michael Joffe
Recently, many studies have found a decrease in semen quality which has increased the focus on male reproductive health. Occupational hazards are by far the best documented in reproductive epidemiological research. Generally, occupational exposures have been divided into physical exposures (heat and radiation), chemical exposures (solvents and pesticides), psychological exposures (distress), exposure to metals and welding. The recent and/or most important epidemiological studies exploring the effect of occupational exposures on semen quality and fecundity, the ability to conceive, are reviewed. The evidence for an adverse effect on male reproduction of several occupational and environmental exposures and toxicants, such as heat, ionizing radiation, inorganic lead, dibromochloropropane, ethylene dibromide, some ethylene glycol ethers, carbon disulfide and welding operations, is strongly supported in well-designed epidemiological studies. For other agents, the association is only suspected or suggested and needs further evaluation before conclusions can be drawn. It is also important to bear in mind that many workers in the non-Western world still are exposed to substances that are banned in the Western world, sometimes in high concentrations.