CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Men with higher levels of C8 and similar chemicals in their blood have lower sperm counts and fewer normal sperm, according to a new scientific study published this week.
The study, published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, is believed to be the first to link exposure to perfluorinated chemicals, or PFCs, to problems with human semen quality.
Authors of the study say the findings might “contribute to the otherwise unexplained low semen quality often seen in young men,” but added that more research is needed.
The study also adds to the growing body of science about the potential dangers of exposure to C8, which also is known as perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA. In January, anothr study found that women with higher levels of these chemicals in their blood took longer to become pregnant than women with lower levels.
Scientists in Demark produced the study, based on blood and semen samples from more than 100 men examined in 2003. The data was collected as part of a program through which such samples are provided when men report for Denmark’s military draft.
They found that men with high combined levels of PFOA and a related chemical, PFOS, had a median of 6.2 million normal sperm in their ejaculate, compared to 15.5 million normal sperm among men with lower levels of the chemicals.
Scientists also reported finding nonsignificant trends with regard to low sperm concentrations, lower total sperm counts and altered pituitary-gonadal hormones associated with higher levels of PFOA and PFOS.
“The use and emissions of poly-fluorinated compounds continue to increase, and they are not readily cleared from the environment,” the study concluded. “Therefore, humans and wildlife worldwide will continue to be exposed for years to come … results from this first and preliminary study should be corroborated in larger studies.”
In West Virginia, DuPont Co. has used C8 since the 1950s at its Washington Works plant south of Parkersburg. C8 is a processing agent used to make Teflon and other nonstick products, oil-resistant paper packaging and stain-resistant textiles.
Around the world, researchers are finding that people have C8 and other perfluorochemicals in their blood at low levels. People can be exposed by drinking contaminated water, eating tainted foods, or through food packaging and stain-proof agents on furniture or carpet.
Evidence is mounting about these chemicals’ dangerous effects, but regulators have yet to set a binding federal limit for emissions or human exposure.