Raman Microspectroscopy Evidence of Microplastics in Human Semen: An Emerging Threat to Male Fertility

18 Pages Posted: 23 May 2023

See all articles by Luigi Montano

Luigi Montano

Local Health Authority ASL Salerno; University of Rome Tor Vergata

Elisabetta Giorgini

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Marina Piscopo

University of Naples Federico II

Valentina Notarstefano

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Tiziana Notari

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Maria Ricciardi

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Oriana Motta

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Abstract

The presence of microplastics (MPs) in human fluids and organs is a great concern, since, as highlighted by recent studies on animal models, they could cause alterations of several physiological functions, including reproduction. In this study, N. 10 semen samples collected from men living in a polluted area of the Campania Region (Southern Italy), were analyzed by Raman Microspectroscopy to evaluate the presence of MPs and to characterize them in terms of morphology (size, color, and shape) and chemical composition. In total, N. 16 pigmented microplastic fragments (ranging from 2 to 6 μm in size) with spheric or irregular shapes were found in six of ten samples. Chemical composition showed the presence of polypropylene (PP), polyethylene (PE), polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polystyrene (PS), polyvinylchloride (PVC), polycarbonate (PC), polyoxymethylene (POM) and acrylic, suggesting ingestion and/or inhalation as a route of exposure to environmental MPs. In this work, we propose for the first time a mechanism by which MPs pass into the semen most probably through the epididymis and the seminal vesicles, which are the most susceptible to inflammation. Given the global decline in seminal quality in recent decades, action is therefore needed to stop the exponential increase in plastic waste as it impacts the reproductive process.

Keywords: Microplastics, human semen, epididymis, seminal vesicles, Raman Microspectroscopy

Suggested Citation

Montano, Luigi and Giorgini, Elisabetta and Piscopo, Marina and Notarstefano, Valentina and Notari, Tiziana and Ricciardi, Maria and Motta, Oriana, Raman Microspectroscopy Evidence of Microplastics in Human Semen: An Emerging Threat to Male Fertility. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4457596 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4457596

Luigi Montano (Contact Author)

Local Health Authority ASL Salerno ( email )

Via Nizza
Salerno, 84124
Italy

University of Rome Tor Vergata ( email )

Elisabetta Giorgini

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

No Address Available

Marina Piscopo

University of Naples Federico II ( email )

Naples
Italy

Valentina Notarstefano

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

No Address Available

Tiziana Notari

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

No Address Available

Maria Ricciardi

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Oriana Motta

affiliation not provided to SSRN

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