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RR979 - Reproductive hazards literature search: Summary

The aim of this work was to establish a current picture of the main documented factors that may be associated with reproductive health, relevant to UK workers. The approach taken was to assess published reviews of literature on reproductive health and gender for workers in the UK, including chemical hazards and risks, as well as other factors.

A limited number of papers were identified in this literature search. From these, a number of occupational exposures or risks were found to have been well-documented as being an issue to both male and female reproductive outcomes. These include exposure to chemicals, exposure to radiation, heavy workload, heat, awkward/ sedentary postures, irregular work schedules, and psychosocial work stress.

The reviews also acknowledge there are probably a variety of other substances or risks where the impact of exposure on reproductive health is currently unknown, and are therefore not well-documented in the literature. This is due to the changing nature of workplaces and new technologies. The evidence for some of the risks is also not conclusive in the literature e.g. stress, heat and posture, as it is sometimes not possible to directly link occupational exposures to reproductive outcomes without removing other factors such as lifestyle and genetics.

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Updated 2013-08-29