Synergistic effects of air pollutants: ozone plus a respirable aerosol.

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Rats were concurrently exposed to mixtures of ozone or nitrogen dioxide and respirable-sized aerosols of sulfuric acid, ammonium sulfate, or sodium chloride, or to each pollutant individually. Their responses to such exposures were evaluated by various quantitative biochemical analyses of lung tissue or lavage fluids, or by morphometric analyses. Such studies were performed in the acute time frame, generally involving exposures of from one to nine days, depending on the assays used. Correlations between the biochemical and morphometric results were examined over a wide range of pollutant concentrations in the exposure chambers. Good correlations were found between the most sensitive biochemical indicators of lung damage--the protein content of lung lavage fluid or whole lung tissue and the rate of lung collagen synthesis--and the morphometric estimation of volume density or volume percent of the centriacinar lung lesion characteristically observed in animals exposed to ozone. Synergistic interaction between ozone and sulfuric acid aerosol was demonstrated to occur at environmentally relevant concentrations of both pollutants by several of the analytical methods used. Such interactions were demonstrated at concentrations of ozone as low as 0.12 parts per million (ppm)2 and of sulfuric acid aerosol at concentrations as low as 5 to 20 micrograms/m3. The acidity of the aerosol is a necessary (and apparently a sufficient) condition for such a synergistic interaction between an oxidant gas and a respirable aerosol to occur. A hitherto unexpected synergistic interaction between nitrogen dioxide and sodium chloride aerosol was found during these studies; it is hypothesized that this was due to formation of their acidic (anhydride) reaction product, nitrosyl chloride, in the chambers during exposure to the mixture. Preliminary experiments treating exposed animals in vivo with various free-radical scavengers suggested that dimethylthiourea, a hydroxyl-radical scavenger, might be protective against effects of ozone on rat lungs. This observation might have mechanistic implications, but further studies will be necessary to determine the significance of these findings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-32
Number of pages32
JournalResearch report (Health Effects Institute)
Issue number38
StatePublished - Jan 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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