A small study of men in the Boston area finds a link between chemicals used as flame retardants and lower levels of a hormone associated with sperm counts and male reproductive function.
The chemicals, known as PBDEs, were used as flame retardants in furniture from the 1970s until 2004, when US chemical manufacturers voluntarily withdrew PentaBDE, a chemical mixture that contained PBDEs, from production. However, older products containing PentaBDE remain in use in houses, offices, and vehicles. PentaBDEs also are found in some food products.
Researchers at the Boston University School of Public Health collected three rounds of serum samples from 27 healthy men in the Boston area. They note that the study was small and urge that results be replicated in a larger study. They also point out that the participants were predominately white, highly educated men—not representative of the general population.
The results, published in the journal Reproductive Toxicology, show the association between PBDE levels and decreased levels of the hormone inhibin-B was especially pronounced in men ages 40 and older. Inhibin-B is produced in the testis and is important for the production of semen.
This was the first study to use repeated serum measures to assess the association between the chemical additive and male reproductive hormones.
Source: Boston University