According to a study carried out among 6475 Taiwanese men of reproductive age (15 to 49 years), exposure to air pollution – primarily exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) – may be connected to poorer quality sperm and to infertility for many couples. The average age of the study participants was 31.9 years and the majority (64.2%) never smoked, and consumed alcohol less than once a week (83.1%).
The study – considered the largest such study to have ever been conducted – found a strong connection between exposure to PM2.5 and decreased sperm normal morphology. More specifically, every 5 ug/m3 increase in fine particulate matter in the 2-year average (PM2.5 levels were estimated for a period of three months and an average of 2 years at every participant’s address) was connected with a reduction of 1.29% in sperm normal morphology and, also, with a 26% greater risk of being in the bottom 10% of sperm normal morphology (normal sperm shape and size).
“Given the ubiquity of exposure to air pollution, a small effect size of PM2.5 on sperm normal morphology may result in a significant number of couples with infertility,” concluded the researchers, adding that they “advocate global strategies on mitigation of air pollution to improve reproductive health.”
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