Formaldehyde is a chemical widely used for industrial and medical applications. Though it is labelled as a human carcinogen, its use is still widespread. Exposure to formaldehyde is very toxic to mammals and even small amounts can cause mucosal irritation.
A research group out of Xi’an Jiaotong University in Xi’an, China recently investigated the effect of formaldehyde exposure on male fertility.
The study looked at the reproductive outcomes of 300 married men exposed to formaldehyde at a wood processing facility in China.
The wives of men who were exposed to formaldehyde had delayed time to pregnancy (TTP). These women experienced a rate of prolonged TTP that was 3x higher than those women married to men who were not exposed to formaldehyde.
The risk for spontaneous abortion was nearly 2x as high in women whose husbands were exposed to formaldehyde at work.
The effects seemed to be dose dependent, as higher rates of exposure to formaldehyde was also linked to higher rates of male infertility.
This study presents important results that could affect a number of industries and have worldwide implications. Future studies will need to determine the specific effect of formaldehyde on sperm quality and quantity.