A recent study funded by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health has reportedly linked workplace bisphenol A (BPA) exposure to “[1] decreased sperm concentration, [2] decreased total sperm count, [3] decreased sperm vitality, and [4] decreased sperm motility.” De-Kun Li, et al., “Urine bisphenol-A (BPA) level in relation to semen quality,” Fertility and Sterility, October 2010. Researchers apparently examined 218 Chinese factory workers—some with occupational exposure to BPA and some with only environmental exposure—concluding that, “those with detectable urine BPA had more than three times the risk of lowered sperm concentration and lower sperm vitality, more than four times the risk of lower sperm count, and more than twice the risk of lower sperm motility.”

Among the 88 study participants who did not work directly with BPA, the study authors observed “similar dose-response associations… with environmental EPA exposures at levels comparable with those in the U.S population.” Additional details about a 2009 study linking occupational BPA exposure to high rates of impotence and sexual dysfunction appear in Issue 327 of this Update. See The Associated Press, October 28, 2010.

In a related development, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have awarded a $2 million grant to establish the “Children’s Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Research Center at Illinois,” where Illinois and Harvard University scientists will conduct four pilot projects to determine “whether regular exposure to BPA and phthalates… can alter infant and adolescent development, cognition or behavior.” According to the University of Illinois, “The centerpiece of the studies is a project that looks at exposure to BPA and phthalates in relation to the physical and mental development of infants.” Dubbed Illinois Kids (I-Kids), the research “will follow pregnant women and their babies, measuring BPA and phthalate levels in the urine every month and collecting data on possible sources of exposure. The babies will also undergo physical, behavioral and cognitive tests.” See University of Illinois Press Release, October 21, 2010.