13 August 1999

Pesticide and fertility link?

MEN who face high exposure to pesticides, as part of their jobs, may be four times less likely to father children, according to new research in Holland.

The findings, published in The Lancet, showed that, of 836 couples who sought in-vitro fertilisation treatment, men exposed to pesticides had the lowest fertility.

Exposure to other occupational hazards, such as organic solvents, metal dust or welding fumes, was not associated with decreased fertility.

The researchers also examined other factors, like smoking, alcohol and coffee drinking. Again, they could not establish any link between these habits and fertility problems.

This latest research follows previous Dutch studies suggesting that the partners of men exposed to pesticides had longer pregnancies and that affected couples produced more girls than boys.

The findings have prompted health and safety campaigner group the Pesticide Trust to call for research to identify which of the 850 pesticides on the European market are responsible for the effect on fertility.

The trusts development director Peter Beaumont said: "We need careful recording of which pesticides are used and increased health surveillance for users ." &#42