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Environ Health Perspect. 2006 Nov;114(11):1643-8.

Decreased serum free testosterone in workers exposed to high levels of di-n-butyl phthalate (DBP) and di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP): a cross-sectional study in China.

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Department of Environmental Epidemiology, Liaoning Provincial Center for Disease Prevention and Control, Shenyang, People's Republic of China.



Observations of adverse developmental and reproductive effects in laboratory animals and wildlife have fueled increasing public concern regarding the potential for various chemicals to impair human fertility.


Our objective in this study was to assess the effect of occupational exposure to high levels of phthalate esters on the balance of gonadotropin and gonadal hormones including luteinizing hormone, follicle-stimulating hormone, free testosterone (fT), and estradiol.


We examined urine and blood samples of 74 male workers at a factory producing unfoamed polyvinyl chloride flooring exposed to di-n-butyl phthalate (DBP) and di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP) and compared them with samples from 63 male workers from a construction company, group matched for age and smoking status.


Compared to the unexposed workers, the exposed workers had substantially and significantly elevated concentrations of mono-n-butyl phthalate (MBP; 644.3 vs. 129.6 microg/g creatinine, p < 0.001) and mono-2-ethylhexyl phthalate (MEHP; 565.7 vs. 5.7 microg/g creatinine, p < 0.001). fT was significantly lower (8.4 vs. 9.7 microg/g creatinine, p = 0.019) in exposed workers than in unexposed workers. fT was negatively correlated to MBP (r = -0.25, p = 0.03) and MEHP (r = -0.19, p = 0.095) in the exposed worker group. Regression analyses revealed that fT decreases significantly with increasing total phthalate ester score (the sum of quartiles of MBP and MEHP; r = -0.26, p = 0.002).


We observed a modest and significant reduction of serum fT in workers with higher levels of urinary MBP and MEHP compared with unexposed workers.

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