EB Research: Air Quality and Reproductive Health: Longitudinal Investigation of Fertility and the Environment (LIFE) Study

Air pollution exposure has been associated with decrements in semen quality, including DNA damage, and recent animal research suggests there may be an effect on fertility measures in females as well. We use the Community-Multiscale Air Quality (CMAQ) Model to determine exposure for criteria air pollutants, including PM2.5 and ozone, as well as over 30 air toxics, temperature, and relative humidity to examine reproductive health effects in the LIFE Study. Couples attempting pregnancy at study sites in Michigan and Texas (n=501) have residential air pollution exposure assigned by CMAQ, as well as other air pollution modeling strategies based on monitor data and proximity to major roadways. We found that living near major roadways was associated with longer time-to-pregnancy but not with infertility. Pregnancy loss appeared to increase with chro0nic ozone and PM2.5 exposure. Our results for semen quality were mostly null with the exception of sperm head defects associated with PM2.5 exposure. In a novel analysis of very short time windows, we also observed that acute exposure around the time of ovulation and implantation can influence likelihood of conception.

Principal Investigator

Pauline Mendola, Ph.D.

DIPHR Collaborators


Mendola P, Sundaram R, Louis GMB, Sun L, Wallace ME, Smarr MM, Sherman S, Zhu Y, Ying Q, Liu D. Proximity to major roadways and prospectively-measured time-to-pregnancy and infertility. The Science of the Total Environment. 2017; 576:172-177. PMID: 27783935. PMCID: PMC5164942.

Ha S, Sundaram R, Buck Louis GM, Nobles C, Seeni I, Sherman S, Mendola P. Ambient air pollution and the risk of pregnancy loss: a prospective cohort study. Fertility and Sterility. 2018; 109(1):148-153. PMID: 29153729. PMCID: PMC5758402.

Nobles CJ, Schisterman EF, Ha S, Buck Louis GM, Sherman S, Mendola P. Time-varying cycle average and daily variation in ambient air pollution and fecundability. Human Reproduction. 2018; 33(1):166-176. PMID: 29136143. PMCID: PMC5850799.

Nobles CJ, Schisterman EF, Ha S, Kim K, Mumford SL, Buck Louis GM, Chen Z, Liu D, Sherman S, Mendola P. Ambient air pollution and semen quality. Environmental Research. 2018; 163:228-236. PMID: 29459305. PMCID: PMC5878741.

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