Pesticides Damaging the Sperm
Fertility of US Farmers

Pesticides Apparently Damaging the Reproductive Capacity of US Farmers

Tom Meersman
Star Tribune (Minneapolis,MN)
Published Nov. 12, 2002

Sperm quality of rural men in one community is worse than that of urban
males in three cities, including Minneapolis, according to a study published
Monday in a science journal.

The study, on which a University of Minnesota researcher collaborated,
raises questions about whether sperm quality is compromised in males who
live near agricultural areas with high pesticide use.

The study is the first in the United States to use standardized methods to
compare semen from different geographical areas, and included Minneapolis,
New York City, Los Angeles and a rural area near Columbia, Missouri.
Researchers analyzed samples taken from 512 male partners of pregnant women
in the four areas between September 1999 and November 2001.

They found that while the volume of semen was similar, its quality was
higher from men in cities. Sperm concentrations from Minneapolis men were 67
percent higher than those from Missouri, for example, and sperm motility, or
movement, was 77 percent higher. Sperm concentrations from Los Angeles and
New York were 38 and 75 percent higher than those from the Missouri area.

Dr. Bruce Redmon, an associate professor of medicine at the university, said
the differences among the geographic areas were unexpected, and "raise
concerns that environmental or other factors may be adversely affecting male
fertility." He said that urine collected as part of the study also will be
checked for pesticides, and compared with the sperm results.

The study was published in the online edition of Environmental Health
Perspectives, a monthly journal. Researchers at University of
Missouri-Columbia led the study.

Redmon said that sperm quality of rural Minnesota men has not been studied,
but could be in the future if additional money becomes available.

Recent studies by the United States Geological Survey showed widespread
occurrences of pesticides in streams and shallow ground water in rural areas
of the Midwest, including Minnesota.

A different University of Minnesota researcher, Vincent Garry, earlier found
higher-than-normal levels of birth defects in children of farmers who have
used pesticides in five northwestern Minnesota counties.

-- Tom Meersman is at

>meersman@startribune.com.


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