Reproductive toxicity

Several studies have examined the effects of occupational exposures to carbon disulphide on human reproductive function. Acute and prolonged exposure may produce adverse effects in males and females. Reported adverse effects include menstrual abnormalities, spontaneous abortions and premature births. Some of these studies are limited by lack of exposure measurements, concomitant exposure to other chemicals and lack of appropriate controls. However, there is some evidence that carbon disulphide may act as a reproductive toxin (ATSDR, 1992).

Male reproductive effects

In an epidemiological study of the effects of carbon disulphide on male sexuality and reproduction, Vanhoorne et al. (1994) found that exposure had a significant effect on libido and potency, but no effects were noted on fertility nor on semen quality. In contrast, Lancranjan (1972) reported hypospermia and abnormal sperm morphology (asthenospermia, teratospermia) in men (mean age 30 years), attributed to chronic carbon disulphide exposure in an artificial fibre factory.

Le and Fu (1996) investigated human sperm chromosome mutagenesis induced by carbon disulphide and concluded that high concentrations of carbon disulphide may directly cause mutagenesis of the germ cell. Structural aberrations consisted of breaks, deletions, centric rings, fragments and chromatid exchange.

Female reproductive effects

In a study in China, Bao et al. (1991) demonstrated that carbon disulphide may contribute to increased birth defects. The study investigated 682 women (comprising 1,112 births in total), occupationally exposed to carbon disulphide for at least 6 months prior to and during pregnancy. Carbon disulphide exposure did not influence the incidence of spontaneous abortion, prematurity, stillbirth, low birth weight or neonatal perinatal death, but the incidence of birth defects in infants of exposed workers was 2.6-fold higher than that in the control group. No specific syndrome of defects was identified, but cardiovascular and central nervous system defects and inguinal hernias occurred in high prevalence.

Animal studies

Tabacora and Hinkova (1976) studied male and female rat offspring from mothers exposed throughout gestation to different concentrations of carbon disulphide (50, 100, 200 mg/m3; 16, 32, 64 ppm). Behavioural patterns in the offspring were tested at days 21, 30 and 90 of life (periods of weaning, growth and maturity). Decreases in vertical and horizontal motor activity were found on day 30 of life in all treated groups, as well as prolonged periods of grooming and increased defecation at 100 mg/m3 (32 ppm) and 200 mg/m3 (64 ppm). Investigational activity was lower at 200 mg/m3 (64 ppm). There were no significant differences in the groups on day 90 of life.

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