How diesel fumes reduce fertility in men by 26%
*Sperm size, shape adversely affected by sooty smoke, researchers find
Diesel fumes could harm male fertility, research suggests. Men living in areas with high levels of air pollution were found to have distorted sperm, a new study reveals.
Experts analysed exposure to sooty particles, which are particularly linked to emissions of old diesel cars.
These particles – called PM2.5 – are so fine that they are breathed into the lungs and enter the blood stream.
Scientist found men at high levels of this pollution were far more likely to have sperm of an abnormal size and shape.
Just last month World Health Organisation data revealed 43 of 50 large towns and cities in Britain have dangerously high levels of PM2.5 particles.
More than 40,000 people are thought to die early every year in the United Kingdom (U.K.) because of air pollution, which is known to contribute to heart problems, lung disease and dementia.
The new research suggests it could also have a major impact on men’s ability to start a family.
The study, published in the BMJ journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine, warned ambient air pollution “may serve as a risk factor of male reproductive health.”
The data comes as experts are increasingly warning fertility is not just a women’s issue.
The new study, led by researchers from The Chinese University of Hong Kong, examined sperm samples collected from 6,500 Taiwanese men aged 15 to 49.
The researchers also measured PM2.5 exposure at the participants’ homes over two years.
Higher pollution was associated with a significant drop in normal sperm shape and size – also known as sperm morphology.
Men who were exposed to more pollution were at a 26 per cent increased risk of being in the bottom 10 per cent of normal sperm size and shape.
However, higher levels of ambient air pollution were also linked to a significant increase in sperm numbers, which the researchers suggest is possibly as a compensatory mechanism to combat the detrimental effects on shape and size.
The authors wrote: “Infertility is a global public health concern. It was estimated that 48.5 million couples worldwide were infertile in 2010. We found a robust association between exposure to PM2.5 air pollution and low percentage of sperm normal morphology in reproductive-age men.
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