of the most famous PCB contamination incidents took place in central
Taiwan in 1979 when cooking oil was contaminated by PCBs and polychlorinated
dibenzofurans. Over 2000 Taiwanese ingested contaminated oil in
this incident. Ever since, scientists have studied the children
born to mothers who were exposed during this tragedy.
Previous studies had shown that children born to mothers after the
event had impaired cognitive development, intrauterine growth retardation,
dysmorphic and hyperpigmented skin and nails.
this study, Guo et al. report that prenatally exposed
boys have sperm with abnormal morphology, reduced motility and reduced
strength. These results are consistent with studies of animals
exposed in the womb to PCBs.
et al. compared sperm characteristics of 12 men contaminated
in the womb with 48 men of matched demographics with no unusual
volume and sperm count were not different comparing exposed and
unexposed men. [This is not surprising... some PCBs increase sperm
count in laboratory experiments...More...]
contrast, the proportion of sperm with normal morphology and the
percentage of motile sperm were reduced in exposed men, as was the
strength of the sperm when tested for its ability to penetrate hamster
oocytes for two hours (Fig 1).
1. The three pairs of columns compare aspects of the sperm of
men exposed in the womb with unexposed counterparts.
men had a higher percentage of sperm with abnormal morphology.
men had a lower percentage of sperm that were motile.
men's sperm were less likely to penetrate hamster oocytes
in a standard 2-hr test.
from Guo et al. 2000.