Compounds from multilayer plastic bags cause reproductive failures in artificial insemination

Sci Rep. 2014 May 9;4:4913. doi: 10.1038/srep04913.


High levels of reproductive failure were detected in some Spanish sow farms in the Spring of 2010. Regular returns to estrus and variable reductions in litter size were observed. The problem started suddenly and did not appear to be related to the quality of the ejaculates, disease, alterations of body condition or any other apparent reasons. Subsequent studies determined that the problem was the origin of the plastic bags used for semen storage. Chemical analysis of the suspicious bags identified unexpected compounds such as BADGE, a cyclic lactone and an unknown phthalate that leached into the semen at concentrations of 0.2 to 2.5 mg/L. Spermatozoa preserved in these bags passed all of the routine quality control tests, and no differences were observed between storage in the control and suspicious bags (p > 0.05). In vitro fecundation tests and endocrine profiler panel analysis (EPP) did not show any alterations, whereas the in vivo tests confirmed the described failure. This is the first described relationship between reproductive failure and toxic compounds released from plastic bags.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Female
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
  • Insemination, Artificial / veterinary*
  • Male
  • Plastics / adverse effects*
  • Plastics / chemistry*
  • Reproduction
  • Semen
  • Sperm Motility
  • Spermatozoa
  • Swine


  • Plastics