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Environ Health Perspect. 2004 Dec;112(17):1665-70.

The relationship of urinary metabolites of carbaryl/naphthalene and chlorpyrifos with human semen quality.

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Department of Environmental Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.


Most of the general population is exposed to carbaryl and other contemporary-use insecticides at low levels. Studies of laboratory animals, in addition to limited human data, show an association between carbaryl exposure and decreased semen quality. In the present study we explored whether environmental exposures to 1-naphthol (1N), a metabolite of carbaryl and naphthalene, and 3,5,6-trichloro-2-pyridinol (TCPY), a metabolite of chlorpyrifos and chlorpyrifos-methyl, are associated with decreased semen quality in humans. Subjects (n=272) were recruited through a Massachusetts infertility clinic. Individual exposures were measured as spot urinary concentrations of 1N and TCPY adjusted using specific gravity. Semen quality was assessed as sperm concentration, percent motile sperm, and percent sperm with normal morphology, along with sperm motion parameters (straight-line velocity, curvilinear velocity, and linearity). Median TCPY and 1N concentrations were 3.22 and 3.19microg/L, respectively. For increasing 1N tertiles, adjusted odds ratios (ORs) were significantly elevated for below-reference sperm concentration (OR for low, medium, and high tertiles = 1.0, 4.2, 4.2, respectively; p-value for trend =0.01) and percent motile sperm (1.0, 2.5, 2.4; p-value for trend = 0.01). The sperm motion parameter most strongly associated with 1N was straight-line velocity. There were suggestive, borderline-significant associations for TCPY with sperm concentration and motility, whereas sperm morphology was weakly and nonsignificantly associated with both TCPY and 1N. The observed associations between altered semen quality and 1N are consistent with previous studies of carbaryl exposure, although suggestive associations with TCPY are difficult to interpret because human and animal data are currently limited.

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