TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – A study carried out on a cross-section of Taiwanese men at the Chinese University in Hong Kong suggests there may be a connection between air pollution and an increase in misshapen sperm.
The study analyzed sperm samples from 6,475 Taiwanese men, aged 15-49 over the years 2001 to 2014. Samples were analyzed according to the residents' addresses using air pollution data calculated by NASA over short term (three-month) and long term (two year) periods.
The data on air pollution in Taiwan was referenced for addresses in areas with PM 2.5 levels of pollution, or air that contains particulate matter of 2.5 microns or less in diameter.
Results of the study were published recently in the journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
The study found a "robust association" between increased exposure to PM2.5 air pollution and a decrease in "normal morphology" of sperm in the test subjects.
The decreased in average size and shape of the sperm also appeared to accompany increased sperm production overall. The study suggests that this occurred "possibly as a compensatory measure."
The decrease was "relatively small in clinical terms,"only a 1.29 percent reduction in normal sperm morphology. However the researchers suggest that the impact of air pollution may result in decreased fertility rates for those affected in the long term.
The association suggested by the research is far from conclusive, as there are other factors besides air pollution which may impact the differences in shape and concentration of sperm.
Correlations evidenced in this study are simply one more reason to avoid regular exposure to, and be concerned about air pollution, specifically in Taiwan it would seem.