Environmental factors could have a key role in the remarkable and continuous decline of sperm quality observed in the last fifty years. This study addressed the gap of knowledge on the effect of air pollutants on sperm DNA fragmentation, comparing the seminal parameters from men living in locations with different levels of air pollution. The detrimental effects of environmental pollution in the Taranto area are alarming: the high level of pollutants released from the steel plants in the atmosphere can cause health and fertility issues. Our study analyzed sperm samples from three groups of patients: i) workers of Taranto steel plants; ii) Taranto residents; iii) Palermo residents, assumed as controls. Results demonstrate that patients from the “steel plants workers” group, constantly exposed to environmental pollutants for professional reasons, show a mean percentage of sperm DNA fragmentation above 30%. In contrast, patientsfrom the “Taranto residents” group and controls show mean percentages ranging between 16.8% and 25%, respectively. We suggest that sperm DNA evaluation can either be an indicator of individual reproductive health, and a suitable tool to connectthe surrounding environment with its effects. On the other end, preliminary data of the Eco Food Fertility project3 indicated animpairment of several semen quality parameters, including increased sperm DNA damage, in clinically healthy male volunteersliving in areas with high environmental impact. Since the methods to study pollutants effects have still to be validated, we suggest that studying sperm DNA fragmentation could serve as a valuable biomarker of the presence and effects of pollution, and we candidate the human sperm cell as an early bioindicator of male health and reproduction.
Lingua originaleEnglish
pagine (da-a)6-6
Numero di pagine1
Stato di pubblicazionePublished - 2017


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