Exposure to hazardous substances and male reproductive health: A research framework

Jacqueline M. Moline, Anne L. Golden, Natan Bar-Chama, Ernest Smith, Molly E. Rauch, Robert E. Chapin, Sally D. Perreault, Steven M. Schrader, William A. Suk, Philip J. Landrigan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

91 Scopus citations


The discovery in the mid-1970s that occupational exposures to pesticides could diminish or destroy the fertility of workers sparked concern about the effects of hazardous substances on male reproductive health. More recently, there is evidence that sperm quantity and quality may have declined worldwide, that the incidence of testicular cancer has progressively increased in many countries, and that other disorders of the male reproductive tract such as hypospadias and cryptorchidism may have also increased. There is growing concern that occupational factors and environmental chemical exposures, including in utero and childhood exposures to compounds with estrogenic activity, may be correlated with these observed changes in male reproductive health and fertility. We review the evidence and methodologies that have contributed to our current understanding of environmental effects on male reproductive health and fertility and discuss the methodologic issues which confront investigators in this area. One of the greatest challenges confronting researchers in this area is assessing and comparing results from existing studies. We elaborate recommendations for future research. Researchers in the field of male reproductive health should continue working to prioritize hazardous substances; elucidate the magnitude of male reproductive health effects, particularly in the areas of testicular cancer, hypospadias, and cryptorchidism; develop biomarkers of exposure to reproductive toxins and of reproductive health effects for research and clinical use; foster collaborative interdisciplinary research; and recognize the importance of standardized laboratory methods and sample archiving.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)803-813
Number of pages11
JournalEnvironmental Health Perspectives
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2000


  • Hazardous substances
  • Male reproductive health
  • Research
  • Semen quality


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