Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 26, Issue 30, pp 31368–31373 | Cite as

Decreased total sperm counts in habitants of highly polluted areas of Eastern Sicily, Italy

  • Rossella CannarellaEmail author
  • Carmelo Liuzzo
  • Laura M. Mongioì
  • Rosita A. Condorelli
  • Sandro La Vignera
  • Salvatore Bellanca
  • Aldo E. Calogero
Research Article


Air pollution has been suggested to affect semen quality, but the evidence is still contradictory. To assess whether any differences occur in conventional sperm parameters of men life-long resident in low, middle-low, middle, and high industrial density zones in the province of Messina. We retrospectively analyzed the conventional sperm parameters of patients to whom the sperm analysis was requested during their female partner counseling for infertility in an assisted reproductive technique (ART) center. A total of 184 men were enrolled. Total sperm count was higher in patients living in low and middle-low industrial density areas compared with that of men living in middle and high ones (123.5 ± 146.8 vs. 80.7 ± 92.7 mil/ejaculate, p < 0.05). No difference was found for sperm concentration (37.2 ± 49.7 vs. 30.5 ± 37.2 mil/mL), progressive motility (15.4 ± 19.8% vs. 14.2 ± 18.4%), total motility (62.3 ± 20.5 vs. 58.4 ± 19.9 mil/mL), and normal forms (2.7 ± 1.5 vs. 2.3 ± 3.0 mil/mL). These results add further evidence to findings from Sicilian population. Effective control of air pollution should be accomplished to prevent its negative impact on human reproductive health.


Air pollution Pollution Male infertility Sperm count Sperm concentration Oligozoospermia 



Regional Agency for Environmental Protection


Assisted reproductive technique






Carbon monoxide


Nonmethanic hydrocarbons


Nitric dioxide


Nitric oxides




Particulate matter


Reactive oxygen species


Sulfur dioxide


Volatile organic compounds


Data availability

Not applicable.

Compliance with ethical standards

Ethical approval and consent to participate

All procedures involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standard of institutional research committee and with Helsinki declaration.

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Clinical and Experimental MedicineUniversity of Catania, Policlinico “G. Rodolico”CataniaItaly
  2. 2.Papardo HospitalMessinaItaly

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