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Volume 21, Issue 5 (September 2019) 21, 501–507; 10.4103/aja.aja_116_18

Ambient ozone pollution is associated with decreased semen quality: longitudinal analysis of 8945 semen samples from 2015 to 2018 and during pollution-control period in Beijing, China

Hai-Tao Zhang1,2,3, Zhe Zhang1,2,3, Jia Cao4, Wen-Hao Tang1,2,3,5, Hong-Liang Zhang2,3,5, Kai Hong1,2,3, Hao-Cheng Lin1,2,3, Han Wu1,2, Qing Chen4, Hui Jiang1,2,3,5

1 Department of Urology, Peking University Third Hospital, Beijing 100191, China
2 Department of Andrology, Peking University Third Hospital, Beijing 100191, China
3 Department of Reproductive Medicine Center, Peking University Third Hospital, Beijing 100191, China
4 Key Lab of Medical Protection for Electromagnetic Radiation, Ministry of Education of China, Institute of Toxicology, College of Preventive Medicine, Army Medical University (Third Military Medical University, Chongqing 400038, China
5 Department of Human Sperm Bank, Peking University Third Hospital, Beijing 100191, China

Correspondence: Dr. H Jiang (jianghui55@163.com) or Dr. Q Chen (chenqingforward@gmail.com)



Previous studies suggest that air pollution has a negative effect on semen quality. However, most studies are cross-sectional and the results are controversial. This study investigated the associations between air pollutants (PM2.5, PM10, SO2, NO2, CO, and O3) and semen quality among sperm donation candidates, especially when the air pollution was artificially controlled in Beijing, China. We analyzed 8945 semen samples in the human sperm bank of Peking University Third Hospital (Beijing, China) from October 2015 to May 2018. Air pollution data during the entire period (0–90 days prior) and key stages (0–9, 10–14, and 70–90 days prior) of sperm development were collected from the China National Environmental Monitoring Centre. The association between air pollutants and semen parameters (sperm concentration and progressive motility) was analyzed by a mixed model adjusted for age, abstinence duration, month, and average ambient temperature. Only O3during key stages of 0–9 days and 10–14 days and the entire period was negatively associated with sperm concentration between 2015 and 2018 (P < 0.01). During the period of air pollution control from November 2017 to January 2018, except for the increase in O3concentration, other five pollutants' concentrations decreased compared to those in previous years. In this period, the sperm concentration decreased (P < 0.001). During the pollution-control period, O3exposure 10–14 days prior was negatively associated with sperm concentration (95% CI: −0.399–−0.111; P < 0.001). No significant association was found between the other five pollutants and semen quality during that period. Our study suggested that only O3exposure was harmful to semen quality. Therefore, O3should not be neglected during pollution control operation.

Keywords: ambient pollution; ozone; pollution-control period; reproductive health; semen quality

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