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Daily News Archive
From May 28, 2002

2,4-D Found in Semen and Urine of Farmers

According to a Health Canada study of 97 Ontario farmers, 2,4-D, the most common weedkiller on Canadian lawns and golf courses, is often absorbed into the semen of men who spray the pesticide and then passed on to their partners during sex. If the woman is pregnant, the fetus is also exposed.

The department wants to know what if the men's exposure could harm their children.

Health Canada calls the pesticide amounts "trace levels." About half of the men had detectable levels of pesticides, averaging 20 to 30 parts per million in seminal fluid. Those with 2,4-D in their semen generally had it in their urine as well.

"Given the importance of semen as a potential carrier of chemicals posing reproductive hazards, it is crucial to understand the relationship between pesticide-handling practices, the presence and levels of pesticide residues in semen and the risk of adverse reproductive outcomes," the department said in a summary of the study, which was published in a research journal called Reproductive Toxicity.

The study is the first to make some initial estimates of exposure and comparisons between pesticides levels in semen and urine. The Ontario farmers were not so bad compared with farmers in Argentina, whose 2,4-D levels were as much as 300 times higher than those of Ontario men. The men in Argentina had significant damage to their sperm cells.