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Effects of occupational solvent exposure on reproductive hormone concentrations and fecundability in men



Little is known about the effects of organic solvents on male reproductive health. To assess fertility and reproductive endocrine function in solvent-exposed men, we investigated time-to-pregnancy using a retrospective cohort design and cross-sectionally measured reproductive hormone concentrations in painters and millwrights compared to a reference group of carpenters.


Detailed occupational, exposure, medical, and time-to-pregnancy histories were obtained by telephone interview. Plasma luteinizing hormone (LH), follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), and testosterone concentrations were determined by immunoassay. Exposure indices, which summarized working life exposure to total solvents, chlorinated solvents, aromatic solvents, and thinners, degreasers, varnishes, and adhesives as a category were calculated from exposure histories.


FSH concentrations increased significantly with increasing exposure indices for all solvents and for chlorinated solvents. There were no significant associations of solvent exposure indices with LH or testosterone levels. LH, FSH, and testosterone concentrations also did not differ by job title. Using Cox regression, time-to-pregnancy was non-significantly longer in the painters and millwrights than the carpenters. There was no significant association between time-to-pregnancy and any of the solvent exposure indices; however, it should be noted that some of the pregnancies occurred more than 20 years previously, potentially reducing the reliability of the retrospectively collected pregnancy and exposure data.


The significant associations between FSH levels and solvent exposure indices suggest the potential for adverse effects of solvent exposures on reproductive function in men.

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