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, semen samples collected from men living in a polluted area of the Campania Region (Southern Italy), were analyzed to assess the presence of MPs. N. 16 pigmented microplastic fragments (ranging from 2 to 6 & mu;m in size) with spheric or irregular shapes were found in six out of ten samples. All the detected MPs were characterized in terms of morphology (size, colour, and shape) and chemical composition by Raman Micro -spectroscopy. Chemical composition showed the presence of polypropylene (PP), polyethylene (PE), poly-ethylene 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 likely through the epididymis and seminal vesicles, which are the most susceptible to inflammation.
Raman Microspectroscopy evidence of microplastics in human semen / Montano, Luigi; Giorgini, Elisabetta; Notarstefano, Valentina; Notari, Tiziana; Ricciardi, Maria; Piscopo, Marina; Motta, Oriana. - In: SCIENCE OF THE TOTAL ENVIRONMENT. - ISSN 0048-9697. - 901:(2023), p. 165922. [10.1016/j.scitotenv.2023.165922]