Exposure of young men to organochlorine pesticides in Southern Spain

Environ Res. 2007 Jan;103(1):55-61. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2006.06.007. Epub 2006 Aug 4.


It has been hypothesized that endocrine disruptors and especially synthetic estrogenic environmental contaminants (xenoestrogens) are etiologic factors in the global decrease of sperm counts and other problems of the male reproductive tract, including cryptorchidism, hypospadias, and testicular cancer. This possibility has prompted research into the current and historical incidence of these diseases. The largest area of intensive greenhouse agriculture in Europe is near the Mediterranean coast of Southern Spain, where this activity has greatly expanded since the 1960s. We determined and compared levels of 14 organochlorine pesticides in the blood of 220 young males in Southern Spain. Aldrin, dieldrin, endrin, lindane, methoxychlor, endosulfans, and DDT and its metabolites were identified. Detectable concentrations of p,p'-DDE were found in 96% of serum samples. Among the remaining DDTs, o,p'-DDD was the most prevalent, detected in 65% of serum samples. Detectable concentrations of endosulfan I or II or their metabolites endosulfan-diol, or -sulfate were found in all samples; endosulfan-diol was the most frequently detected metabolite (92%) followed by sulfate. Results indicate that men of reproductive age in Southern Spain have been and are exposed to organochlorine pesticides. Because many of these chemicals have estrogenic and anti-androgenic activity, further research is warranted to interpret the male reproductive health consequences of this exposure.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Mass Index
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydrocarbons, Chlorinated / blood*
  • Male
  • Maternal Exposure
  • Occupational Exposure
  • Pesticides / blood*
  • Pregnancy
  • Spain


  • Hydrocarbons, Chlorinated
  • Pesticides