Many chemicals in the work environment are known to adversely affect male reproductive system. Studies have been done on pesticides, heavy metals , solvents and also on panmasala.
Among pesticides, cypermethrin was found to cause a significant increase in the number of sperm head abnormalities and degeneration of spermatogenic cells in a dose-dependent manner. Experimental studies with DDT, BHC also showed toxic effect on testicular tissue and delayed sperm production. Reproductive effects of several heavy metals like lead, mercury, selenium were also studied. The results revealed that different heavy metals act on different cell types of male germinal cells. Animal studies on lead-induced sperm abnormalities also corroborated the human studies carried out in printing press workers whose blood lead level was high and correspondingly seminal lead level was also high. It was also noted that organic mercury i.e. methyl mercury, is more toxic to male gonads than inorganic mercury. Selenium was found to inhibit the process of testosterone biosynthesis and spermatogenesis.
Toxicity studies on carbon disulphide (CS2) showed a dose dependent decrease in sperm counts and increase in abnormalities in sperm-head shapes. Findings of the experimental study were corroborated by an epidemiological study in which environmental concentrations of CS2 correlated with the miscarriages suffered by wives of exposed workers. This indicates that CS2 possesses the potential to exert male mediated reproductive toxicity.
Toxic effect of panmasala was studied on mouse testis and sperm morphology after chronic exposure through feeding. It was observed that pan masala plain without tobacco (PMP) and pan masala with tobacco (PMT) induced deleterious histological alterations in mouse testis, however, the changes were less pronounced in PMP treated group as compared to that PMT treated animals. A statistically significant elevation of sperm head shape abnormalities was observed in panmasala treated groups more so in the PMT treated.