Prepubertal organochlorine pesticide concentrations and age of pubertal onset among Russian boys

Environ Int. 2014 Dec;73:135-42. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2014.06.020. Epub 2014 Aug 10.


Background: In animal studies, organochlorine pesticide (OCP) exposure alters pubertal development; however, epidemiological data are limited and inconsistent.

Objective: To evaluate the associations of serum OCP concentrations [hexachlorobenzene (HCB), β-hexachlorocyclohexane (β-HCH), and p,p'-dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene (p,p'-DDE)] with male pubertal onset.

Methods: In Chapaevsk, Russia, a town environmentally contaminated with OCPs, 350 8-9 year old boys with measured OCPs were enrolled during 2003-2005 and were followed annually for eight years. We evaluated three measures of pubertal onset: testicular volume (TV)>3 mL in either testis, or stage 2 or greater for genitalia (G2+), or pubic hair (P2+). We used multivariable interval-censored models to evaluate associations of OCPs (quartiles) with physician-assessed pubertal onset.

Results: In adjusted models, boys with higher HCB concentrations had later mean ages of TV>3 mL and P2+ (but not G2+). Mean age at attaining TV>3 mL was delayed 3.6 (95% CI: -2.6, 9.7), 7.9 (95% CI: 1.7, 14.0), and 4.7 months (95% CI: -1.4, 10.9) for HCB Q2, Q3, and Q4, respectively, compared to Q1 (trend p: 0.06). Boys with higher HCB concentrations reached P2+ 0.1 months earlier (95% CI: -5.8, 5.6) for Q2, 4.7 months later (95% CI: -1.0, 10.3) for Q3 and 4.6 months later (95% CI: -1.1, 10.3) for Q4 compared to Q1 (trend p: 0.04). There were no associations of serum β-HCH and p,p'-DDE concentrations with age of pubertal onset.

Conclusion: Higher prepubertal serum HCB concentrations were associated with later age of gonadarche and pubarche.

Keywords: HCB; Male puberty; Organochlorine pesticides; p,p′-DDE; β-HCH.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Dichlorodiphenyl Dichloroethylene / blood*
  • Hexachlorobenzene / blood*
  • Hexachlorocyclohexane / blood*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pesticides / blood*
  • Puberty / blood*
  • Russia


  • Pesticides
  • Dichlorodiphenyl Dichloroethylene
  • Hexachlorobenzene
  • Hexachlorocyclohexane
  • beta-hexachlorocyclohexane