(NaturalNews) Men who are regularly exposed to a common ingredient of water-soluble paints are 250 percent more likely to have a specific sperm abnormality, according to a study conducted by researchers from the Universities of Manchester and Sheffield in the United Kingdom, and published in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
As part of a study into the effect of workplace chemicals on male fertility, researchers interviewed 2,118 men attending 14 fertility clinics in 11 cities. The men were asked about their lifestyles, including their jobs and their exposure to certain chemicals.
Men who were regularly exposed to glycol ethers were 250 percent more likely to have problems with sperm motility than men who were not regularly exposed. Such men included painters and decorators, who spend significant amounts of time around paints and similar chemicals.
Motility refers to how well an individual sperm cell moves, and is a significant predictor of fertility. Other sperm factors that can influence fertility include the size and shape of the sperm cell, or the quality of its DNA. While problems with these factors were not tested for in the current study, certain chemicals have been known to produce such effects as well.
"We know that certain glycol ethers can affect male fertility," said researcher Andy Povery, "and the use of these has reduced over the past two decades. However, our work suggests they are still a workplace hazard, and further work is needed to reduce such exposure."
Other sources of sperm motility problems included regular manual labor, wearing tight underpants and a history of testicular surgery. Even after the researchers adjusted for these factors, however, the correlation between motility problems and glycol ether exposure remained strong.
The researchers also found that men who drank alcohol regularly tended to have better sperm motility, although the source of this correlation was not clear.