Exposure to low levels of ozone results in enhanced pulmonary retention of inhaled asbestos fibers

Kent E Pinkerton, A. R. Brody, F. J. Miller, J. D. Crapo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Health effects associated with exposure to ozone at environmentally relevant concentrations are subject to considerable controversy. Currently, no compelling evidence exists that exposure to low levels of ozone leads to lasting impairment of pulmonary structure or function. One adverse health effect of ozone may be to change lung uptake or clearance functions for other inhaled air pollutants. As a test of this hypothesis, Fischer 344 rats were continuously exposed to 0.06 ppm ozone 7 days a week with a slow rise in ozone to a peak of 0.25 ppm and subsequent decrease to 0.06 ppm over a 9-h period five times each week for 6 wk. Three days after the end of ozone exposure, animals were exposed to aerosolized asbestos fibers for 5 h and examined immediately after or 30 days after exposure to asbestos. Filtered air control animals were simultaneously exposed to asbestos. Immediately after the end of fiber exposure, lung asbestos fiber burden was similar in both groups. However, 1 month after exposure, fiber mass and fiber number were significantly greater (p < 0.05) in the lungs of animals exposed to ozone than in the lungs of those exposed to air. These findings suggest that ambient levels of ozone can impair clearance of fibrogenic and carcinogenic materials such as asbestos from the lungs and represent an important adverse effect of prolonged exposure to levels of this oxidant gas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1075-1081
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Review of Respiratory Disease
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1989

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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