London, May 24: Exposure to paints can make you infertile, for a new study has revealed that chemicals used in emulsion damage semen quality in males.
Researchers in Britain have found that men who regularly work with paints that include widely used solvents such as glycol ethers are 2.5 times more likely to have a low sperm count than those who use the substances infrequently.
According to lead researcher Andy Povey of Manchester University, "We know that certain glycol ethers can affect male fertility and the use of these has reduced over the past two decades.
"However, our results suggest that they are still a workplace hazard and that further work is needed to reduce such exposure."
The study, undertaken by the researchers from Manchester and Sheffield universities, at 14 fertility clinics in 11 cities across Britain, examined the working lives of 2,118 men.
They found that men who had undergone previous surgery to the testicles or who undertook manual work were more likely to have low motile sperm counts, whereas men who drank alcohol regularly or wore boxer shorts were more likely to have better semen quality.
The researchers concluded that, apart from glycol ether, there are currently few work place chemical threats to male fertility. "Glycol ethers continue to be a work place hazard and as such may warrant measures to ensure scrupulous control," the British media quoted Povey as saying.
Added co-researcher Dr Allan Pacey of the University of Sheffield: "Infertile men are often concerned about whether chemicals they are exposed to in the workplace are harming their fertility. Therefore it is reassuring to know that on the whole the risk seems to be quite low."
The results of the study have been published in the `Occupational Environmental Medicine` journal.
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