Study Links Low Sperm Quality To Pesticide Exposure in Men


DLHA Staff Writer


A large scale and recent evidence review of global literature has found strong evidence of association between pesticide exposure and lower sperm concentration (oligospermia) in adult men.


The review involved 20 studies, 21 study populations, and 1,774 adult men with occupational and environmental exposure to pesticides across 13 countries in Asia, North and South America and Europe. It spanned nearly 50 years and found consistent links between lower sperm concentrations and two widely used classes of insecticides; organophosphates (OP) and N-methyl carbamates (NMC).


Low sperm concentration (oligospermia), is commonly used to diagnose spontaneous male factor infertility and is associated generally with reduced male health, including higher rates of cancer, chronic diseases and all-cause deaths.


The exact causes of oligospermia is unknown but risk factors include, age, nutrition, lifestyle factors and exposure to reproductive poisons in the environment like pesticides.


The findings of the study builds on previous ones, and was published Nov. 15 in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives. It revealed a dose-dependent evidence of robust associations between occupational and environmental insecticide exposure and lower sperm concentration, study authors claim. Occupational exposure demonstrated a stronger association with lower sperm count than environmental exposure.


Given that there may be multiple pathways by which pesticides impact sperm concentration, and that the agents are a concern for public health and all men, who are exposed primarily through the consumption of contaminated food and water, the study authors advocate for more “understanding of how insecticides affect sperm concentration in humans”.  


Limitations of the study, are largely methodological, but its strength lies in being the most comprehensive review of the subject matter to date, says the authors who advocate for more regulatory action to reduce human exposure to insecticides.



Environmental Health Perspectives. 2023. Nov. 15. Volume 131, Issue 11. Nov. 15.  Available from:




Published: November 17,, 2023

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