Air pollution is a current research priority because of its adverse effects on human health, including on fertility.
However, the mechanisms through which air pollution impairs fertility remain unclear.
In this article, we perform a systematic review to evaluate currently available evidence on the impact of air pollution on fertility in humans.
Several studies have assessed the impact of air pollutants on the general population, and have found reduced fertility rates and increased risk of miscarriage.
Outdoor air pollution and human infertility: a systematic review, Fertility and Sterility, Volume 106, Issue 4, Pages 897–904, September 15, 2016.
Image: Environmental Research Group, King’s College London, London Air Quality Network.
In subfertile patients, women exposed to higher concentrations of air pollutants while undergoing IVF showed lower live birth rates and higher rates of miscarriage.
After exposure to similar levels of air pollutants, comparable results have been found regardless of the mode of conception (IVF versus spontaneous conception), suggesting that infertile women are not more susceptible to the effects of pollutants than the general population.
In addition, previous studies have not observed impaired embryo quality after exposure to air pollution, although evidence for this question is sparse.