Pesticides and 
Men’s Fertility


Fruits and vegetables laced with pesticides might lower sperm counts and percentages of normally-formed sperm, according to a study from Harvard School of Public Health in Boston. Researchers analyzed 338 semen samples from 155 men attending a fertility center between 2007 and 2012. The men were between the ages of 18- and 55-years-old, had not had vasectomies, and were part of a couple planning to use their own eggs and sperm for fertility treatment. Diets were assessed and fruit and vegetable intakes were categorized as being high, moderate, or low in pesticide residues based on data from the USDA. The men were divided into four groups, ranging from those who ate the greatest amount of fruit and vegetables high in pesticides residues (1.5 servings or more a day) to those who ate the least amount (less than half a serving a day). Results showed that men who ate the highest amount of fruits and vegetables with high levels of pesticide residue had 49% lower sperm count and 32% lower percentage of normally-formed sperm compared with men who consumed the least amount. The researchers conclude that, “…exposure to pesticides used in agricultural production through diet may be sufficient to affect spermatogenesis in humans.”

A pesticide, called pyrethroid pesticides, might increase the risk for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children and young teens, state researchers at  Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.

In Perspective: USDA considers high-pesticide residue produce to be peppers, spinach, strawberries, apples, and pears. For these selections, choose organic, which is lower in pesticides. Low pesticide residues are found in peas, beans, grapefruit, and onions.

Chiu Y, Chavarro J, et al: Fruit and vegetable intake and their pesticide residues in relation to semen quality among men from a fertility clinic. Human Reproduction 2015; March 30th.

Wagner-Schuman M, Richardson J, Auinger P, et al: Association of pyrethroid pesticide exposure with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in a nationally representative sample of U.S. children. Environmental Health 2015;14:44.


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