Exposure to heavily polluted air can damage sperm DNA

Turns out air pollution can make a man into a eunuch. Research published this month in the journal Human Reproduction found that the sperm quality of 35 men in Teplice, Czech Republic, diminished significantly in the winter when more fossil fuels were burned and the area’s air pollution reached or exceeded the allowable limit for U.S. cities. Impacts could include infertility, miscarriages, and birth defects. But the sperm DNA recovered when air quality improved at other times of the year. “This is the first real evidence that air pollution can damage sperm DNA,” said scientist Allan Pacey of the British Fertility Society, “but it is reassuring that the effect is reversible.” Experts recommend that men attend to their overall health if they’re bent on procreation, but as it takes about three months to produce mature sperm, hopeful dads-to-be should start cleaning up their acts — and breathing cleaner air — well ahead of the moment of conception.