Epidemiological evidence on reproductive effects of persistent organochlorines in humans

Reprod Toxicol. 2004 Nov;19(1):5-26. doi: 10.1016/j.reprotox.2004.05.006.


Organochlorines are widespread pollutants in humans. Concern about adverse reproductive effects of these compounds arises from accidental exposure of humans and experimental studies. Recently, this issue has been addressed by a number of studies of exposed populations and hospital-based case-referent studies. These studies indicate that high concentrations of persistent organochlorines may adversely affect semen quality and cause testicular cancer in males, induce menstrual cycle abnormalities and spontaneous abortions in females, and cause prolonged waiting time pregnancy, reduced birth weight, skewed sex ratio, and altered age of sexual development. However, most effects have been demonstrated at exposure levels above the present day exposure level in European and North American populations. Due to inherent methodological problems in several of the available studies, additional research is needed to fully elucidate the possible adverse effects of organochlorines on human reproductive health.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Environmental Pollutants / toxicity*
  • Europe / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Genital Diseases, Female / chemically induced*
  • Genital Diseases, Female / epidemiology
  • Genital Diseases, Female / pathology
  • Genital Diseases, Male / chemically induced*
  • Genital Diseases, Male / epidemiology
  • Genital Diseases, Male / pathology
  • Hormone Antagonists / toxicity
  • Humans
  • Hydrocarbons, Chlorinated / toxicity*
  • Male
  • North America / epidemiology
  • Pregnancy
  • Reproduction / drug effects*


  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Hormone Antagonists
  • Hydrocarbons, Chlorinated