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Health effects of acid aerosols formed by atmospheric mixtures.

  • Author(s): Kleinman, M T
  • Phalen, R F
  • Mautz, W J
  • Mannix, R C
  • McClure, T R
  • Crocker, T T
  • et al.
Abstract

Under ambient conditions, sulfur and nitrogen oxides can react with photochemical products and airborne particles to form acidic vapors and aerosols. Inhalation toxicological studies were conducted, exposing laboratory animals, at rest and during exercise, to multicomponent atmospheric mixtures under conditions favorable to the formation of acidic reaction products. Effects of acid and ozone mixtures on early and late clearance of insoluble radioactive particles in the lungs of rats appeared to be dominated by the oxidant component (i.e., the mixture did cause effects that were significantly different from those of ozone alone). Histopathological evaluations showed that sulfuric acid particles alone did not cause inflammatory responses in centriacinar units of rat lung parenchyma (expressed in terms of percent lesion area) but did cause significant damage (cell killing followed by a wave of cell replication) in nasal respiratory epithelium, as measured by uptake of tritiated thymidine in the DNA of replicating cells. Mixtures of ozone and nitrogen dioxide, which form nitric acid, caused significant inflammatory responses in lung parenchyma (in excess of effects seen in rats exposed to ozone alone), but did not damage nasal epithelium. Mixtures containing acidic sulfate particles, ozone, and nitrogen dioxide damaged both lung parenchyma and nasal epithelia. In rats exposed at rest, the response of the lung appeared to be dominated by the oxidant gas-phase components, while responses in the nose were dominated by the acidic particles. In rats exposed at exercise, however, mixtures of ozone and sulfuric acid particles significantly (2.5-fold) elevated the degree of lung lesion formation over that seen in rats exposed to ozone alone under an identical exercise protocol.

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