Airborne particles of the California Central Valley alter the lungs of healthy adult rats

Kevin R. Smith, Seongheon Kim, Julian J. Recendez, Stephen V. Teague, Margaret G. Ménache, David E. Grubbs, Constantinos Sioutas, Kent E Pinkerton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Epidemiologic studies have shown that airborne particulate matter (PM) with a mass median aero-dynamic diameter < 10 μm (PM10) is associated with an increase in respiratory-related disease. However, there is a growing consensus that particles < 2.5 μm (PM2.5), including many in the ultrafine (< 0. 1 μm) size range, may elicit greater adverse effects. PM is a complex mixture of organic and inorganic compounds; however, those components or properties responsible for biologic effects on the respiratory system have yet to be determined. During the fall and winter of 2000-2001, healthy adult Sprague-Dawley rats were exposed in six separate experiments to filtered air or combined fine (PM2.5) and ultrafine portions of ambient PM in Fresno, California, enhanced approximately 20-fold above outdoor levels. The intent of these studies was to determine if concentrated fine/ultrafine fractions of PM are cytotoxic and/or proinflammatory in the lungs of healthy adult rats. Exposures were for 4 hr/day for 3 consecutive days. The mean mass concentration of particles ranged from 190 to 847 μg/m3. PM was enriched primarily with ammonium nitrate, organic and elemental carbon, and metals. Viability of cells recovered by bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) from rats exposed to concentrated PM was significantly decreased during 4 of 6 weeks, compared with rats exposed to filtered air (p < 0.05). Total numbers of BAL cells were increased during 1 week, and neutrophil numbers were increased during 2 weeks. These observations strongly suggest exposure to enhanced concentrations of ambient fine/ultrafine particles in Fresno is associated with mild, but significant, cellular effects in the lungs of healthy adult rats.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)902-908
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironmental Health Perspectives
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jun 1 2003


  • Concentrated ambient particles
  • Fine particles matter
  • Pulmonary inflammation
  • Ultrafine particles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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