Global Decline In Male Fertility Linked To Pesticides, Study Says

ARVIN, CA - AUGUST 11: A farm worker labors in a field on August 11, 2004 near the town of Arvin, southeast of Bakersfield, California. California?s Central Valley is one of the nation's most important agricultural and oil producing areas. Mass food production has brought heavy use of chemicals, including pesticides that have sickened hundreds of area workers and residents. In 2002, the last year for which numbers are available, 172 million pounds of pesticides were used on California fields sickening 478 people as airborne chemicals drifted 39 times, according to the state Department of Pesticide Regulation. On May 2, a crew of 100 workers was caught in a drift of pesticide near Arvin that made 19 of them sick, including a woman who was five months pregnant. This spring, state Sen. Dean Florez introduced a bill, the Pesticide Drift Exposure Response Act, to help pay for field workers' medical care. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
(Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

OAN’s James Meyers
10:54 AM – Wednesday, November 15, 2023

A new study shows that male fertility is declining due to the use of pesticides. 


According to 25 studies done by researchers over several years, the results revealed that men who have been exposed to certain pesticides had a massive decline in sperm concentrations. 

The study published by Environmental Health Perspectives, included over 1,700 men that dated back several decades. 

“No matter how we looked at the analysis and results, we saw a persistent association between increasing levels of insecticide and decreases in sperm concentration,” said study author Melissa Perry, who is an environmental epidemiologist and the dean of the College of Public Health at George Mason University. “I would hope this study would get the attention of regulators seeking to make decisions to keep the public safe from inadvertent, unplanned impacts of insecticides.”

A report published last year by the Human Reproduction Update showed sperm counts were falling at a staggering rate across the world. 

“There’s been some pretty, I’d say, convincing and sort of scary data on measures of male fertility over the previous 50-70 years, whatever it might be, from different places around the world suggesting sperm concentration is on decline and not just a little bit,” said John Meeker, a professor of environmental health sciences at the University of Michigan School of Public Health who was not involved in either of the recent studies. “It’s concerning.”

Researchers in the latest study focused on two groups of chemicals, organophosphates and some carbamates, which are used in insecticides. They also used separate groups of people with exposures to pesticides and others who were not in the study. 

Additionally, the researchers controlled for outside factors such as smoking and age. However, Perry says more research and study is required to determine how pesticides are affecting sperm concentrations ultimately. 

“The more you study something, the more complicated it seems to get, especially when it comes to biology and the human body,” Meeker said. “We’re slowly pointing out various chemicals or classes of chemicals we think could be harmful to something like reproductive health, but as far as a single smoking gun, I haven’t seen anything to that extent.”

Additionally, Perry says there are other data points to consider such as how sperm are shaped and how they swim. 

She also hopes the Environmental Protection Agency can get involved with the impact of chemicals and pesticides on reproductive health in their assessments.

“Given the body of evidence and these consistent findings, it’s time to proactively reduce these insecticide exposures for men wanting to have families,” Perry said

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