Daily News Archive

Study Links Herbicide Use to Infertility In Women
(Beyond Pesticides, January 22, 2004)
A recent case-controlled study (2003) by Greenlee et al published in Epidemiology showed that infertile women who live near U.S. farmlands were 27 times more likely to have mixed or applied herbicides and 3.3 times more likely to have used fungicides within two years of conceiving than women who were fertile.

The authors of the study, summarized by The Collaborative on Health and The Environment, compared matched populations of fertile and infertile women totaling 322 cases. The populations were matched for most variables such as age, income, health status, body mass, sexual partner history, and ruled out participants whose infertility may have been caused by the male counterpart. Participants were asked questions concerning demographics, occupation, exposures, pesticide use, residency on a farm, and tobacco and alcohol use from present to two years prior to conception.

The findings support a number of epidemiological studies and animal laboratory experiments that show strong associations or linkages between infertility rates and exposure to agricultural chemicals. A study by Swan et al (2003) showed that men studied in Missouri who had traces of alachlor, atrazine and diazinon in their urine had increased risks of poor sperm quality.

The recent Greenlee findings provide strong warnings to women not to use or mix herbicides within two years of wanting to have a baby. The study’s results also indicated that alcohol use also contributed to women’s infertility rates by as much as 6.7 times. According to the Collaborative, “The collective weight of evidence is very strong, especially in light of the animal experiments. Taken together, they indicate that fertility of American women and men is being undermined by today's use of agricultural chemicals.”