Painters, decorators likely to have low sperm count

May 24th, 2008 - 8:39 pm ICT by admin  

London, May 24 (IANS) Painters and decorators are more likely to have low sperm counts, thanks to their frequent brush with glycol ethers, according to the latest research. Glycol ethers are widely used in many products, including water-based paints — a product used by many painters and decorators.

Those exposed frequently to these solvents have a 2.5 fold increased risk of low sperm count, compared to men with low exposure.

Sperm count influences fertility and the concentration of sperm per ejaculation has been linked by earlier studies with conception.

However, the size and shape of sperm and the quality of sperm DNA are also important factors that may be affected by chemical exposure.

The study, undertaken in 14 fertility clinics in 11 cities across Britain, examined the working lives of 2,118 men.

The researchers however did conclude that, apart from glycol ether, there are currently few workplace chemical threats to male fertility.

In additional to chemical exposure, the study looked at other non-chemical factors in men’s lifestyle. Men who had undergone previous surgery on testicles or who undertook manual work were more likely to have low motile sperm counts.

Those who drank alcohol regularly or wore boxer shorts were more likely to have better semen quality.

Andy Povey of University of Manchester said: “We know that certain glycol ethers can affect male fertility and the use of these has reduced over the past two decades.

“However our results suggest that they are still a workplace hazard and that further work is needed to reduce such exposure.”

Allan Pacey of University of Sheffield added: “Infertile men are often concerned about whether chemicals they are exposed to in the workplace are harming their fertility. Therefore it is reassuring to know that on the whole the risk seems to be quite low.”

Findings of the study have been published in the journal Occupational Environmental Medicine.

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