The Toxicity of Diesel Exhaust: Implications for Primary Care

Irina N. Krivoshto, BA; John R. Richards, MD; Timothy E. Albertson, MD, MPH, PhD; Robert W. Derlet, MD


J Am Board Fam Med. 2008;21(1):55-62. 

In This Article

Perinatal Health and Infertility

Several worldwide studies have linked diesel exhaust exposure to low birth weight in infants, premature births, congenital abnormalities, and elevated infant mortality rate.[63,64,65,66] DEPs caused a significant decrease in adult sperm production and a diminished number of Sertoli cells in an animal model.[67] Other studies have shown aberration of sex hormone production and effect in chronically exposed female rats, with increased levels of testosterone and subsequent masculinization.[68] Pregnant rats exposed to DEPs had higher rates of spontaneous abortions. There are few human epidemiologic studies, but one study demonstrated a negative effect of DEPs on human sperm motility.[69] Another compound isolated from DEPs, 4-nitrophenol (PNP), has been identified as a vasodilator. One study group demonstrated that PNP has estrogenic and antiandrogenic activities in vivo, leading to sterility.[70] The accumulation of PNP in air, water, and soil may be one factor in the increasing incidence of sterility in humans and animals, but epidemiologic studies are pending.


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