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AIR POLLUTION EFFECTS ON SEMEN QUALITY
DARNEY, S. P., S. G. SELEVAN, D. P. EVENSON, AND J. RUBES. AIR POLLUTION EFFECTS ON SEMEN QUALITY. Presented at Health Effects Institute Annual Conference, Washington, DC, April 29 - May 01, 2001.
The potential impact of exposure to periods of high air pollution on male reproductive health was examined within the framework of an international project conducted in the Czech Republic. Semen quality was evaluated in young men (age 18) living in the Teplice District who are exposed to episodes of high air pollution during the winter months, and the results compared to those obtained from young men living in Prachatice, a rural district with relatively clean air. A total of 272 men were surveyed either in early March(1993 or 1994), after wintertime episodes of high air pollution, or in September (1993)after an extended ~eriodof relativelv low air ~ollution.H ealth information was obtained from a physical examination and questionnaire on factors that could impact semen quality health, personal habits, exposures at work or hobby), and semen was analyzed for sperm concentration, motility, morphology and two genetic tests. The mean (median) sperm concentration and sperm count were 61.2 (44.0) million sperm/ml semen and 11 3.3 (81.5) million sperm/sample. Neither district of residence nor exposure to periods of elevated air pollution was associated with changes in these measures. However, winter exposures that exceeded US standards were associated with significant decreases in sperm motility and morpholo~an d increases in the incidences of sperm with abnormal chromatin structure and aneuploidy. These data provide the first evidence that exposure to episodes of high air pollution may be associated with abnormal semen quality. A follow up study was conducted wherein 37 men from Teplice provided repeated samples during periods ~f both high and low air pollution between 1995 and 1997. Preliminary analysis of these data indicates a lack of significant associations between exposure and most semen outcomes in these men; however, exposures were somewhat lower during these years.