Section 30
Chapter 29,861

Acid fog: effects on respiratory function and symptoms in healthy and asthmatic volunteers

Hackney, J.D.; Linn, W.S.; Avol, E.L.

Environmental Health Perspectives 79: 159-162


ISSN/ISBN: 0091-6765
PMID: 2707195
DOI: 10.1289/ehp.8979159
Accession: 029860354

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Acidic air pollutants generally are dissolved in water droplets. Mean droplet diameter may range from more than 10 microns in dense fog to less than 1 micron at low relative humidity. Droplet size influences the deposition of inhaled acid within the respiratory tract and thus may influence toxicity. To help assess health risks from acid pollution, we performed controlled exposures of normal and asthmatic volunteers to sulfuric acid aerosols at nominal concentrations of 0 (control), 500, 1000, and 2000 micrograms/m3. Exposures lasted 1 hr with intermittent heavy exercise. Response was assessed by lung function tests and symptom questionnaires. Under foggy conditions (mean droplet size 10 microns, temperature 50 degrees F), no marked effects on lung function were found. However, both normal and asthmatic subjects showed statistically significant dose-related increases in respiratory symptoms. In a separate study, normal subjects exposed at 70 degrees F with mean droplet size 0.9 microns showed no marked effect on function or symptoms. Asthmatics showed dose-related decrements in forced expiratory performance and increases in symptoms, most obvious at 1000 and 2000 micrograms/m3. The different results of the two studies probably reflect an influence of droplet size, but further investigation is needed to confirm this. The aggregate results suggest that only mild, if any, short-term respiratory irritant effects are likely at acid concentrations attained in ambient pollution.

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