Impact of exposure to airborne persistent organic pollutants on semen quality

Indoor Air Cartoon Journal, January 2020, Volume 3, #94

The persistence of certain organic pollutants in the air increases the vulnerability of any humans or animals living or working in the vicinity. Vulnerability increases the risk of adverse health effects occurring due to exposure to the pollutants. Examples of such pollutants are Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), and Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT). Xu and Zhang (2011) documented the sources of these pollutants.

The sources of PCBs may include floor finishes, foam cushioning and mattresses, Oil-filled transformers, and capacitors. The sources of PBDEs may include carpet padding, wall coverings, electronic casings, foam cushioning, and mattresses. DDT could be generated from disinfecting products.

Many of these persistent organic pollutants are regulated in some countries. However, these pollutants can persist in the air for years. Unfortunately, there are many countries where the use or generation of these pollutants are not regulated. Occupational exposure is another vulnerability concern. People working in jobs, e.g., industrial chemical plants, where exposure to these pollutants are high are at risk of developing health effects associated with these pollutants.

The association of the pollutants, particularly when inhaled, with low semen quality, is a public health concern. Exposures to a high concentration of airborne persistent organic pollutants do induce excess production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) more than the body antioxidant can scavenge – a situation defined as oxidative stress. Excessive ROS are toxic to cells, causing cell death, particularly to that of sperm, which are sensitive to ROS. Low active sperm leads to low semen quality. Source elimination, adoption of appropriate ventilation rate, and air cleaning can help reduce exposure and vulnerability.

94. Low Semen Quality_94

Do you want to know more about this topic, read Hsu et al. (2014), Maneesh and Jayalekshmi (2006), Mumford et al. (2015), and Xu and Zhang (2011) papers.

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