Distribution of persistent organochlorine contaminants in infertile patients from Tanzania and Germany

J Assist Reprod Genet. Sep-Oct 2006;23(9-10):393-9. doi: 10.1007/s10815-006-9069-6. Epub 2006 Oct 4.


Purpose: To test whether environmental pollutants could affect fertility in humans.

Methods: 31 women and 16 men from Tanzania and 21 couples from Germany were included (n = 89). Pesticides and polychlorinated biphenyls were measured in serum, follicular fluid or seminal plasma by gaschromatography and related to sperm quality and pregnancy rates.

Results: Higher concentrations of DDT+DDE and dieldrin in Tanzania and higher concentrations of PCBs in Germany and in men were detected. All compounds showed higher concentrations in serum and lowest concentrations in seminal plasma. A lower pregnancy rate in German women with high serum concentrations of DDT+DDE was observed. The toxins had no impact on sperm quality.

Conclusions: The distribution of toxins between agricultural and industrial countries is different. Seminal plasma seems to be inert against chemicals. In patients with high serum concentrations of DDT and DDE pregnancy rates were impaired.

MeSH terms

  • DDT / analysis
  • DDT / blood
  • Dichlorodiphenyl Dichloroethylene / analysis
  • Dichlorodiphenyl Dichloroethylene / blood
  • Dieldrin / analysis
  • Dieldrin / blood
  • Environmental Pollution*
  • Female
  • Germany / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Hydrocarbons, Chlorinated / analysis*
  • Hydrocarbons, Chlorinated / blood
  • Infertility, Female / epidemiology*
  • Infertility, Male / epidemiology*
  • Male
  • Semen / chemistry
  • Tanzania / epidemiology


  • Hydrocarbons, Chlorinated
  • Dichlorodiphenyl Dichloroethylene
  • DDT
  • Dieldrin