Indian Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine   Official publication of Indian Association of  0ccupational  Health  
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Year : 2018  |  Volume : 22  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 128-137

Occupational and environmental exposure to lead and reproductive health impairment: An overview

Former Director, National Institute of Occupational Health, Ahmedabad, India

Correspondence Address:
Sunil Kumar
Former Director-in-Charge. NIOH, Ahmedabad, A-10, Radhey Kunj Appt, B/H Circuit house, Ahmedabad - 380 004, Gujarat
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ijoem.IJOEM_126_18

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Lead is a heavy metal. It is used in lead-acid battery, as a coloring agent, paints, and metal alloyed as shielding materials, smelters, printing press, and so on. It is a toxic metal affecting various organs, and developing fetus and young children are more vulnerable to toxicity of lead. This overview is based on the information of toxic potential of lead to human reproduction and reproductive outcome. Exposure to lead may affect libido, semen quality by declining sperm count, motility, viability, integrity, elevation in morphological abnormalities, and sperm DNA integrity. These alterations led to reducing fertility potential and chances of miscarriages, preterm birth, and so on in a partner. Lead exposure impairs hormonal synthesis and regulations in both sexes. Lead exposure also affects female reproduction by impairing menstruations, reducing fertility potential, delaying conception time, altering the hormonal production, circulation, affecting pregnancy and its outcome, and so on. At present, the safe dose of lead cannot be advocated as more and more data are generated in recent years which indicate the toxic potential of lead to human reproduction at a low level that was previously thought not to have such effect. Hence, use of lead should be stopped/avoided or restricted to safeguard human reproduction.


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