Infertility is a common public health challenge in Nigeria. The causes of infertility in both males and females are multifactorial, and the contributions of endocrine abnormalities had been reported from both the Northern and Southern regions of Nigeria. The effect of occupational exposure on endocrine levels among petrol pump attendants has not been sufficiently documented in our setting. This study evaluated the levels of reproductive hormones, blood cadmium, and lead among fuel pump attendants in Benin City. A total of 60 petrol attendants and 30 healthy non-occupationally exposed subjects were recruited for the study. A blood specimen was collected and evaluated for follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinizing hormone (LH), progesterone, estrogen, and testosterone as well as blood cadmium and lead using ELISA and Atomic Absorption Spectrophotometer (AAS) respectively. Serum levels of FSH, LH, estradiol, progesterone and testosterone were significantly lower among fuel attendants than non-occupationally exposed control subjects. The mean levels of blood cadmium and lead were significantly higher among fuel attendants than controls. Reproductive hormone levels significantly correlated with the duration of exposure to petrol fumes, FSH (r=-0.50, p=0.001), LH (r=-0.52, p=0.001), estradiol (r=0.32, p=0.009), progesterone (r=-0.35, p=0.005) and testosterone (r=-0.48, p=0.001). Blood cadmium and lead correlated negatively with reproductive hormones except between lead with estradiol (r=0.14, p=0.276) which was positively correlated. The levels of measured reproductive hormones were significantly lower, while cadmium and lead were significantly higher in fuel attendants than non- occupationally exposed control subjects. Exposure to petroleum fumes may be a risk factor and may be associated with reproductive hormone abnormalities. Personal protective devices should be worn by petrol attendants in order to avoid the adverse consequences of the observed abnormalities.
Key words: Sex hormones, fuel pump attendants, occupational exposure.
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