Men with high levels of three common pesticides in their urine are more than 10 times as likely to have low-quality sperm than men who haven’t been exposed to the chemicals, according to a groundbreaking new study published today.
The results were so powerful that many scientists will quickly seek to test the study’s suggestion that the widely-used weed killers alachlor and atrazine and the insecticide diazinon may be affecting the fertility of men who drink water tainted with the compounds.
The study adds new fuel to a decade-long controversy over whether toxic chemicals are responsible for the fact that male infertility is increasing in some parts of the world, including portions of Northern Europe, which has become a hotbed of research into the trend. It also comes at a time when atrazine, the nation’s most heavily used pesticide, is under intense scrutiny by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. A study last year suggested that the weed-killer is making male frogs in the Midwest grow female gonads, prompting an ongoing EPA review.
Atrazine, alachlor and diazinon have been found in drinking-water supplies throughout North America, including the Northeast, but the greatest contamination has tended to be in farm belt states like Missouri.
Swan’s study, published today in the online edition of the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, is the first to look specifically at the impact of those heavily used pesticides on sperm quantity and quality in men who drink water tainted with those chemicals.
She found that the strongest effect was from alachlor, an herbicide widely used on corn and soybeans. Men with unusually high levels of the weed killer in their urine were 30 times more likely to have lower sperm counts and less vigorous sperm than men who had much lower exposures.
“Our study finds a very, very large risk, and I’m very anxious to try to replicate it,’ Swan said. ‘Even if the next study finds an effect one-third as big, it will still be of the same magnitude as smoking and lung cancer.”
Medical News Today, Jun 2003
Two quick suggestions to avoid this entire issue:
1. Eat as many foods ORGANIC as possible
2. Drink purified water.