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Shell workers show low levels of sperm

Shell’s medical director, Dr. R. E. Joyner, said that the tests should not be interpreted as meaning the workers were sterile.

30 Aug 1977

DETROIT (AP) – Shell Chemical Co. says some of its workers exposed to the pesticide DBCP show low levels of sperm. Shell is the second manufacturer and third chemical company to report the phenomenon.

Like the other manufacturer, Dow Chemical Co., Shell said it was urging distributors to return stocks of DBCP and “further that they assist in the return of product in the hands of dealers and growers.”

An announcement from Houston, which Shell said was made Friday but which was received here only today, said 16 of 21 employes tested showed sperm counts “lower than would normally be expected.”

The workers were at Mobile, Ala., and Denver, Colo. Shell has produced DBCP at Mobile since 1976 and at Denver from 1955 from 1955 through 1975.

DBCP, or dibromochloropropane, is used by farmers to kill soil pests such as worms.

The manufacturers, Shell and Dow Chemical Co. of Mich, stopped making DBCP about two weeks ago after reports of sterility or low fertility among Dow workers at Magnolia, Ark., and employees of Occidental Chemical Co., a processor in California.

Last Thursday Dow said it was trying to recall DBCP stocks.

Shell said it had tested less than 20 per cent of the employes it intended to test.

The company said it was encouraging the 16 employes to be tested again.

Shell’s medical director, Dr. R. E. Joyner, said that the tests should not be interpreted as meaning the workers were sterile.

“Sterility is a complicated diagnosis, which one cannot arrive at on the basis of one sperm count. These first results for the most part show moderate depression in count which are not diagnostic of sterility and do not preclude the possibility of a reversible process,” he said.

Associated Press syndicated article. This example published by Big Spring (Texas) Herald Tues Aug 30 1977 page 2-A

Sterility causing chemical also linked with cancer: 23 August 1977

Shell workers show low levels of sperm: 30 August 1977

Dow links chemical to low fertility: 21 October 1977

Pesticide exposure limitations sought: 02 November 1977


Banana workers’ pesticide award invalid, Dow says: 28 May 2003

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