Decreased total sperm counts in habitants of highly polluted areas of Eastern Sicily, Italy

Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. 2019 Oct;26(30):31368-31373. doi: 10.1007/s11356-019-06248-x. Epub 2019 Aug 31.


Air pollution has been suggested to affect semen quality, but the evidence is still contradictory. To assess whether any differences occur in conventional sperm parameters of men life-long resident in low, middle-low, middle, and high industrial density zones in the province of Messina. We retrospectively analyzed the conventional sperm parameters of patients to whom the sperm analysis was requested during their female partner counseling for infertility in an assisted reproductive technique (ART) center. A total of 184 men were enrolled. Total sperm count was higher in patients living in low and middle-low industrial density areas compared with that of men living in middle and high ones (123.5 ± 146.8 vs. 80.7 ± 92.7 mil/ejaculate, p < 0.05). No difference was found for sperm concentration (37.2 ± 49.7 vs. 30.5 ± 37.2 mil/mL), progressive motility (15.4 ± 19.8% vs. 14.2 ± 18.4%), total motility (62.3 ± 20.5 vs. 58.4 ± 19.9 mil/mL), and normal forms (2.7 ± 1.5 vs. 2.3 ± 3.0 mil/mL). These results add further evidence to findings from Sicilian population. Effective control of air pollution should be accomplished to prevent its negative impact on human reproductive health.

Keywords: Air pollution; Male infertility; Oligozoospermia; Pollution; Sperm concentration; Sperm count.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Air Pollution / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Semen Analysis
  • Sicily
  • Sperm Count*
  • Sperm Motility