Letter | Published:

Combined effect of ozone and sulphur dioxide on human pulmonary function

Naturevolume 257pages5051 (1975) | Download Citation



THERE have been few studies of the effects of common air pollutants on man during light exercise, and even fewer of the effects of combinations of pollutants. We have found that low concentrations of ozone and sulphur dioxide together have much greater effect on pulmonary function than when either is breathed separately. Reduction of particulate pollution in the ambient air of cities with a high traffic density creates favourable conditions for ozone formation (0.15 p.p.m. ozone has been recorded in London, England1) and subsequent interaction with ambient SO2. In environments where oxidants are already a major problem, air pollution will be compounded by energy-saving measures which encourage the use of heavy (sulphur-containing) fuels. Thus, either increased levels of photochemical pollutants in an atmosphere with already high SO2 levels or increases in SO2 concentrations in the presence of oxidants may result in a potential health hazard.

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    Derwent, R. G., and Stewart, H. N., Nature, 241, 342 (1973).

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    Bates, D. V., et al., Can. med. Ass. J., 103, 833–837 (1970).

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    Hazucha, M., Silverman, F., Parent, C., Field, S., and Bates, D. V., Archs environ. Hlth, 27, 183–188 (1973).

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    Macdowall, F. D. H., and Cole, R. F. W., Atmos. Environ., 5, 553–559 (1971).

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    Lebowitz, M. D., Bendheim, P., Cristea, G., Markovitz, D., Misiaszek, J., Staniec, M., and Van Wych, D., Am. Rev. resp. Dis., 109, 262–273 (1974).

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  1. Department of Physiology, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, H3G 1 Y6

    • M. HAZUCHA
  2. Faculty of Medicine, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, V6T 1W5

    • D. V. BATES


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