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Is There a Link Between Air Pollution and Male Infertility?

Research has shown a link between poor air quality and everything from prenatal health to upper respiratory problems. Now, a new study indicates it may have a negative impact on male fertility.

Study Finds Decrease in Sperm Size and Shape


A team of researchers at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and elsewhere recently studied the health effects of fine particulate pollution on male fertility. Their findings: a decrease in the size and shape of sperm, a phenomenon that could result in infertility.

Fine Particulate Matter and Its Effects on Health


The particulate matter comes from pollution emitted from power plants, cars, smokestacks and the like, that contain potentially toxic chemicals such as heavy metals. After breathing the air, the particles enter the bloodstream. Because their size is so small—30 times smaller than the thickness of human hair—they’re easier to inhale deeply into the lungs.

Correlation Between Air Pollution and Abnormal Sperm Shape


Researchers studied medical examination data spanning 2001 to 2014 from 6,500 15- to 49-year-old men and compared that to fine particulate levels at their home addresses. They found a correlation between air pollution levels and abnormal sperm shape. Specifically, high levels of air pollution were associated with a 26 percent increase in the risk of being in the lower 10 percent of average sperm size and shape.

Possible Causes of Sperm Damage


The study didn’t demonstrate a direct cause and effect between air pollution and lower sperm quality. But in their report, researchers point to earlier experiments on animals that found sperm damage caused by cadmium, a potentially carcinogenic metal derived from burning fossil fuels and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which are in things such as vehicle exhaust and fumes from asphalt roads.

Implications and Earlier Research


While the change in sperm size and shape linked to poor air quality is small, the report also suggests the implications are large, given the widespread scale of air pollution and, especially, the harmful effects of particulate matter. With that in mind, researchers say it could result in “a significant number of couples with infertility.”


The findings underscore earlier work by researchers in the Czech Republic, who also discovered evidence of alterations in sperm quality due to exposure to air pollution. That study examined two groups of 18-year-old men, one living in a highly industrialized district with seasonally high levels of air pollution and another from a rural area with relatively clean air. During periods of higher levels of air pollution, the sperm of subjects in the first region showed greater decreases in motility and increases in abnormal shapes.

How Can You Protect Yourself?


What can you do? One step to take is to keep the air in your home clean by using a smart air purifier with a HEPA filter, like Airmega. That can help cut down on the amount of unhealthy particulate matter you inhale.


1Coway air purifiers have been proven to trap dust, pollen, dander, viruses and bacteria in the air based on KCL (Korea Conformity Laboratories) testing.They have been tested in a 30㎥ size chamber according to the Korea Air Cleaning Association standard (SPS-KACA 002-132:2022 Modified) to measure the 0.01㎛ size of particle removal rate. It was tested on maximum airflow speed in normal room temperature and humidity conditions. The performance may vary in the actual living environment of customers.
→ Tested with Airmega Aim, 100, 150, 160, AP-1216L, AP-1512HH, AP-1512HHS, 200M, Icon, IconS, 230, 240, 250, 250 Art, 250S, 300, 300S, 400, 400S, ProX

299.97% of viruses, bacteria, fungi and pollen were verified to be removed from the air for Coway air purifiers which have Green True HEPA™ filter applied based on the Japan Food Research Laboratories(JFRL) testing according to JEM 1467 standard.
→ Tested with Coway Airmega AP-1512HH, AP-1512HHS, 250, 250 Art, 250S, 300, 300S, 400, 400S
→ All tested by JFRL and received above result within below time.

All tested by JFRL and received above result within below time.

- Virus: Tested with Escherichia coli phage ΦX174 NBRC 103405, 60 minutes
- Bacteria: Tested with Staphylococcus epidermidis NBRC 12993, 60 minutes
- Fungi/Mold: Tested with Penicillium citrinum NBRC 6352, 60 minutes
- Pollen: Tested with Cedar Pollen extract, 60 minutes

3Aerosol test conducted in a Biosafety level 3 laboratory with two Coway air purifier models, Coway Airmega 250 and 400 for removal of SARS-CoV-2 Aerosol by US based MRI Global, a not-for-profit laboratory and partner of US Department of Defense. The test was conducted in a 13.1ft3 chamber. Virus was aerosolized for 15 minutes and the product was turned on high for 2 minutes. Result showed each product effectively removed over 99.98% of the SARS-CoV-2 in 2 minutes. This is a result from a laboratory experiment condition and result may vary in different conditions. This result does not imply it kills SARS-CoV-2 or prevents the transmission of Covid-19. Coway Airmega 250S and 400S are identical to the tested models and has equal performance with an additional mobile connectivity function.

4The concentration of ammonia, acetaldehyde and acetic acid were proven to be removed within 30 minutes by FCG Research Institute, Inc. Human Life Science Lab. It is not a demonstration result in the actual use space. Not all odors and gases may be supported. → Tested with Coway Airmega 150, 160, AP-1512HH, AP-1512HHS, 400, 400S

5The coverage area of the air purifier is based on an area where the air cleaner can make two air changes per hour (ACPH). An air change per hour translates to how many times an air purifier can clean an area, assuming the height of a ceiling to be 8 ft, in one hour. Therefore ** means two air changes per hour means that the cleaner can clean the area once every 30 minutes and * means air changes per hour means that the air purifier can clean the area once every 60 minutes.

10Terms and conditions apply. Discounts, including promotions, coupons, bundle discount and subscription discount, cannot be stacked on top of other coupons. During promotional periods, discount codes will not be able to be applied to orders. Promo codes may apply to products only—filters, accessories, and new products within 3 months of the release date are not included.