A research study has found out that men exposed to industrial fumes had lower sperm count. Their sperm also had lower motility and other defects.
The alarming findings are present in a joint research study conducted by city-based Institute of Genetics, Mahavir hospital, Indian institute of chemical technology and Owaisi Hospital and Research center.
The researchers concluded that men exposed to industrial fumes containing nickel and chromium showed decreased vitality and had higher percentage of defects in their sperm.
Though there was no significant difference in the volume of semen ejaculated by these men and those in the control group, the former had lower sperm count(almost half) and slow progressive motility when compared to the others.
Significantly, the percentage of normal sperm was also low in the exposed group. They also showed higher percentage of defects in the head and mid-piece of the sperms.
DrRoyaRozati, a member of the study team, pointed out that men exposed to nickel and chromium fumes had a large number of morphologically abnormal spermatozoa. The level of these metals in their blood was also higher than that of the control group.
“There was a significant correlation between the percentage of such defects and nickel and chromium concentration in the blood,” he said. “sperm vitality decreased with increasing chromium concentration.”
The study covered 57 workers of an industrial welding plant. The workers had been exposed to welding fumes for 2 to 20 years. The control group also consisted of 57 men, not exposed to known harmful chemicals.
In all, 45 percent of the men in the study were smokers and 32 percent were occasional drinkers. Sperm samples were taken after a three-day period of sexual abstinence.
Nickel is extensively used in the plating industry, sometimes in combination with other metals. It is used in electroplating, welding, flame cutting, flame, spraying and mould making. It is also used in the manufacture of jewellery, coinage, cutlery and cooking utensils. Chromium is used in metallurgy, chrome plating, welding, chemical industry, textile manufacture, wood preservation, photography and photoengraving.
In studies on animals, it was found that nickel crossed the placental barrier affecting the developing embryo.