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Environ Int. 2001 Jun;26(7-8):511-22.

Chemical and biological evaluation of a reaction mixture of R-(+)-limonene/ozone: formation of strong airway irritants.

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National Institute of Occupational Health, Copenhagen, Denmark.


The airway irritation of a reaction mixture of R-(+)-limonene and ozone was evaluated by a mouse bioassay in which sensory irritation, bronchoconstriction and pulmonary irritation were measured. Significant sensory irritation (33% reduction of mean respiratory rate) was observed by dynamic exposure of the mice, during 30 min, to a ca. 16 s old reaction mixture of ozone and limonene. The initial concentrations were nominally 4 ppm O3 and 48 ppm limonene. After reaction, the residual O3 was <0.03 ppm. Conventional analytical chemical methods were used to measure the formation of readily identified and stable products. Besides the expected products, 1-methyl-4-acetylcyclohexene (AMCH), 3-isopropenyl-6-oxoheptanal (IPOH), formaldehyde and formic acid, autooxidation products of limonene and a series of compounds including acetone, acrolein and acetic acid, which may or may not be artefacts, were identified. Addition of the sensory irritation effects of the residual reactants and all the identified compounds could not explain the observed sensory irritation effect. This suggests that one or more strong airway irritants were formed. Since limonene is common in the indoor air, and ozone is infiltrated from outdoors and/or produced indoors (e.g., by photocopiers), such oxidation reactions may be relevant for indoor air quality.

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