Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Traffic cops losing their fertility levels due to pollution

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: Traffic cops beware! An increasing number of policemen on traffic duty are losing their fertility levels thanks to their prolonged exposure to vehicular pollutants everyday.
According to a research study conducted by a team of city-based fertility experts in association with the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences, Hyderabadi traffic cops have significantly lower total sperm motility and high extent of damage to sperm DNA. The fertility levels in traffic policemen are almost 20 to 30 per cent lower than that of people from other occupations.
Even the volume of semen ejaculated by traffic cops (2.35 ml) is lower than the men in the control group (2.41 ml). The total progressive motility is 57.64 and 65.28 per cent respectively in traffic police personnel and those from other occupations that do not require constant exposure to vehicular pollutants.
Traffic policemen also showed significantly lower forward progression of sperm. There was a significant increase in basal DNA damage in the cops as compared with that of the control group. This increase is due to the presence of lead, nitric oxide and toxic substances present in environment.
The study was carried out by fertility experts R Rozati, K Shankarappa, Sugana Reddy and Satyanarayana Reddy in collaboration with Prof A Kriplani of AIIMS. Fifteen traffic policemen and 15 people from other occupations were selected for the study. They were screened for their fertility levels. A detailed semen analysis was carried out for any genotoxic effect of traffic pollutants on sperm DNA through single cell gell electrophoresis method.
In traffic police personnel, the result showed 50 cells per treatment with comet tail length, which in other words means damage to the sperm DNA. A significant increase in basal DNA damage and deranged in sperm count and its morphology was observed in cops.
Says Dr Rozati, "pollutants have adverse effect on male reproductive function. Occupational exposure to traffic pollution reduces the semen quality. Traffic policemen, street sweepers, postal workers, salespersons, taxi drivers, city bus drivers and newspaper vendors experience the highest exposure to airborne pollutants. Traffic cops in big cities like Hyderabad are at a high risk".
Policing is among the top three occupations most commonly reported by both occupational physicians and psychiatrists in the Occupational disease Intelligence Network (ODIN) system for Surveillance of Occupational Stress and mental Illness (SOSMI).

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