Reproductive Health Risks Associated with Occupational and Environmental Exposure to Pesticides

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 Jun 18;18(12):6576. doi: 10.3390/ijerph18126576.


A marked reduction in fertility and an increase in adverse reproductive outcomes during the last few decades have been associated with occupational and environmental chemical exposures. Exposure to different types of pesticides may increase the risks of chronic diseases, such as diabetes, cancer, and neurodegenerative disease, but also of reduced fertility and birth defects. Both occupational and environmental exposures to pesticides are important, as many are endocrine disruptors, which means that even very low-dose exposure levels may have measurable biological effects. The aim of this review was to summarize the knowledge collected between 2000 and 2020, to highlight new findings, and to further interpret the mechanisms that may associate pesticides with infertility, abnormal sexual maturation, and pregnancy complications associated with occupational, environmental and transplacental exposures. A summary of current pesticide production and usage legislation is also included in order to elucidate the potential impact on exposure profile differences between countries, which may inform prevention measures. Recommendations for the medical surveillance of occupationally exposed populations, which should be facilitated by the biomonitoring of reduced fertility, is also discussed.

Keywords: female; infertility; male; transplacental.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infertility* / chemically induced
  • Infertility* / epidemiology
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases*
  • Occupational Exposure* / adverse effects
  • Pesticides* / toxicity
  • Pregnancy
  • Reproductive Health


  • Pesticides