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Nasal effects of VOCs and ozone.

Laumbach RJ; Fiedler N; Gardner CR; Zhang J; Lioy P; Fan T; Soukup J; Devlin RB; Kelly-McNeil K; Kipen HM
Am J Respir Crit Care Med 2003 Apr; 167(7):A972
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) may contribute to the nasal symptoms that are prominent in indoor air complaints. A mixture of 22 VOCs has been associated with nasal irritation and increased PMNs in nasal lavage (NAL). Unsaturated VOCs and ozone react to form particles, aldehydes and other irritating compounds. We hypothesized that exposure to 23 VOCs and ozone (VOCO) would cause more nasal irritation and inflammation than VOCs or clean air (CA). In a repeated measures design, 62 healthy women completed (to date) three 3-hour exposure conditions. Subjects were screened for atopy by questionnaire and RAST, and stratified as high and low chemical odor intolerance (CI) based on self-report. VOCs and ozone were maintained in the exposure chamber at 7 ppm and 40 ppb, respectively. The CA exposure was effectively masked with a pulse of VOC mixture (0.7ppm) at the onset of the exposure condition. Symptoms were rated before, during, and after exposure. NAL fluid, collected before and after exposure, was analyzed for PMNs, IL-6 and IL-8. Measurements confirmed the formation of aldehydes and reactive particles during the VOCO condition. We found no significant differences in total symptoms or nasal symptoms between VOCO, VOC and CA conditions, nor did we find differences in markers of nasal inflammation between conditions. There were no increases in these measures for hi- vs. low-CI, or for atopic vs. non-atopic subjects. Effective blinding to the exposure conditions, absent in prior studies showing positive results, may explain the negative symptom findings, but physiologic discrepancies with prior research lack clear explanations.
Nasal-disorders; Organic-compounds; Indoor-air-pollution; Air-monitoring; Air-quality; Irritants; Aldehydes; Exposure-levels; Questionnaires; Respiratory-irritants; Indoor-environmental-quality
Publication Date
Document Type
Abstract; Conference/Symposia Proceedings
Email Address
Fiscal Year
Issue of Publication
Priority Area
Work Environment and Workforce: Indoor Environment
Source Name
American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, 2003 International Conference, The American Thoracic Society, Seattle, WA, May 16-21, 2003
Page last reviewed: September 24, 2021
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division