Air Quality Importance

The quality of the air you breathe…

In some regions, ozone can reach significantly high levels in the summer as sunlight merges with compounds from car exhaust, gasoline vapor, and industrial emissions to produce air pollutants.

Both animal and human epidemiological studies support the idea that air pollutants cause defects during gametogenesis, leading to a decrease in the reproductive capacity of exposed populations. Air quality has an impact on overall health and reproductive function; therefore, increased awareness of environmental protection issues is needed among the general public and authorities.

Another study has evaluated the impact of air pollutants on fertility. The outcomes of interest included live birth, miscarriage, clinical pregnancy, implantation, and embryo quality. These results suggest a significant impact of air pollution on miscarriage and clinical pregnancy rates in the general population. In contrast, among subfertile patients, certain air pollutants seem to exert a greater impact on fertility outcomes, including miscarriage and live birth rates. PMID: 25212280

Ambient air pollution exposure is associated with various adverse pregnancy outcomes, including infant mortality, preterm birth, and impaired fetal growth. PMID: 28684711

Fetal development is a critical window of exposure-related susceptibility because the etiology of diseases in adulthood may have a fetal origin and may be attributed to the adverse effects of in-utero environmental exposures. Exposure to ambient outdoor air pollution is a detrimental environmental factor that has been identified. For instance, combustion-related PM including BC is associated with lower birth weight, preterm birth, and intrauterine growth restriction. Various studies have described the association between prenatal ambient air pollution exposure and impaired birth outcomes. It has also been proven that macrophages, black spots trapped inside cells and believed to be carbon particles from the air, were found in the placenta of pregnant women. Research has shown that high exposure to air pollution can result in higher rates of infant mortality, lower birth weight, abnormal lung development, and higher risks of preterm births. The study was able to detect Black Carbon particles from ambient air pollution present in human placentae in a label-free and biocompatible manner. PMID: 31530803

Another study suggested that long-term exposure to particulate matter was positively associated with serum testosterone levels in males but negatively associated with progesterone levels. Ozone affects the levels of female progesterone, a major hormone in the reproductive system. 

Breathing ozone during ovulation decreased progesterone levels and reduced the number of ovulated eggs. In addition, this short exposure to ozone affects crucial brain and ovarian signaling, which are key for the ovulation process. In addition, positive associations between residential greenness and serum testosterone and progesterone levels were observed, but they were modified by high levels of PM. Furthermore, the estimated effects of residential greenness on testosterone levels were partly mediated by physical activity. PMID: 33962270

The moral of the story is that if you are trying to conceive, it is important for you to be aware of the quality of the air you breathe. You can check your area’s air quality index (AQI) using apps and avoid being outside when air quality is low, especially during the summer and on high-ozone air pollution days. Although some pollutants can be absorbed through the skin, wearing a mask can help filter the air that you breathe. Investing in air purifiers can also help filter homes of harmful pollutants.