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Int Arch Occup Environ Health. 2004 May;77(4):235-43. Epub 2004 Mar 6.

Changes in eye blink frequency as a measure of trigeminal stimulation by exposure to limonene oxidation products, isoprene oxidation products and nitrate radicals.

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  • 1National Institute of Occupational Health, Lersø Parkallé 105, 2100, Copenhagen, Denmark.



To measure eye blink frequency as a measure of trigeminal stimulation of the eye. Human subjects were exposed to oxidation mixtures representative of reactive indoor pollutants and clean air, from which relative changes in blink frequencies were measured.


Male subjects ( n=8) were exposed for 20 min to limonene oxidation products (LOPs), isoprene oxidation products (IOPs), nitrate radicals (NO(3)), their residual reactants, and clean air at 20% relative humidity. A baseline blink frequency was measured prior to and following each exposure (2 x 8 min). The subjects were exposed locally in the non-dominant eye and single blind in random order. Blinking was video-recorded and evaluated for full sessions of 36 min while the subjects viewed an educational film. The initial terpene concentrations were one to two orders of magnitude higher than mean indoor concentrations.


The mean blink frequency increased significantly during subjects' exposure to gas-phase oxidation products at lower part-per-billion (ppb) levels of LOPs, 42% ( P<0.0001) and NO(3), 21% ( P<0.022), compared with that at baseline. Neither the residual reactants nor clean air changed the blink frequency significantly. The findings coincided with qualitative reporting of weak eye irritation symptoms.


Changes in blink frequency appear to be a promising measure of trigeminal stimulation from exposure to eye irritants in ppb levels. Gaseous products of limonene and ozone, and reactive radicals may cause eye irritation indoors.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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