2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic Acid Residues in Semen of Ontario Farmers

Reprod Toxicol. Nov-Dec 1999;13(6):421-9. doi: 10.1016/s0890-6238(99)00057-x.


Although paternal exposures to environmental toxicants probably play a role in adverse pregnancy outcomes, few data are available on the extent of this exposure. One semen and two 24-h urine samples were collected from 97 Ontario farmers who had recently used the phenoxy herbicides 2,4-D (2.4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid) and/or MCPA ([4-chloro-2-methylphenoxyl acetic acid). Both samples were analyzed for 2,4-D using an immunoassay-based technique. Approximately 50% of the semen samples had detectable levels of 2, 4-D (> or =5.0 pph (ng/mL)). Semen levels of 2.4-D were correlated more closely with the second of the two urine samples. Although several studies have measured 2.4-D in the urine of applicators, this study is the first to attempt to measure 2,4-D levels in semen. As these pesticides can be excreted in the semen, they could be toxic to sperm cells and be transported to the woman and developing embryo/fetus. Further research is needed to understand how pesticide handling practices can affect semen pesticide residues and the relationship between the levels observed and reproductive health.

MeSH terms

  • 2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic Acid / analysis*
  • 2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic Acid / urine
  • 2-Methyl-4-chlorophenoxyacetic Acid / analysis
  • 2-Methyl-4-chlorophenoxyacetic Acid / urine
  • Adult
  • Agriculture*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Condoms
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Herbicides / analysis*
  • Herbicides / urine
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Occupational Exposure*
  • Pesticide Residues / analysis*
  • Pesticide Residues / urine
  • Semen / chemistry*


  • Herbicides
  • Pesticide Residues
  • 2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic Acid
  • 2-Methyl-4-chlorophenoxyacetic Acid