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Haematological and spermatotoxic effects of ethylene glycol monomethyl ether in copper clad laminate factories
  1. Tung-Sheng Shiha,
  2. An-Tsz Hsiehb,
  3. Guo-Dong Liaob,
  4. Yeong-Hwang Chenb,
  5. Saou-Hsing Lioub
  1. aInstitute of Occupational Safety and Health, Council of Labor Affairs, Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China, bDepartment of Public Health, National Defense Medical Center, Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China
  1. Dr Saou-Hsing Liou, Department of Public Health, National Defense Medical Center, PO Box 90048–509, Nein Hu, Taipei, Taiwan 100, Republic of China


OBJECTIVES To investigate the effects of ethylene glycol monomethyl ether (EGME) on haematology and reproduction in exposed workers.

METHODS 53 Impregnation workers from two factories that make copper clad laminate with EGME as a solvent were recruited as the exposed group. Another group of 121 lamination workers with indirect exposure to EGME was recruited as the control group. Environmental monitoring of concentrations of EGME in air and biological monitoring of urinary methoxyacetic acid (MAA) concentrations were performed. Venous blood was collected for routine and biochemical analyses. Semen was collected from 14 workers exposed to EGME for sperm analysis and was compared with 13 control workers.

RESULTS Results of haematological examination showed that the haemoglobin, packed cell volume, and red blood cell count in the male workers exposed to EGME were significantly lower than in the controls. The frequency of anaemia in the exposed group (26.1%) was significantly higher than in the control group (3.2%). However, no differences were found between the female workers exposed and not exposed to EGME. After adjustment for sex, body mass index, and duration of employment, red blood cell count was significantly negatively associated with air concentrations of EGME, and haemoglobin, packed cell volume, and red blood cell count were significantly negatively associated with urinary concentrations of MAA. The pH of semen in the exposed workers was significantly lower than in the control workers, but there were no significant differences in the sperm count or sperm morphology between the exposed and control groups.

CONCLUSION It can be concluded that EGME is a haematological toxin, which leads to anaemia in the exposed workers. However, the data from this study did not support the theory of a spermatotoxic effect of EGME.

  • ethylene glycol monomethyl ether
  • haematological disorders
  • spermatotoxicity

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