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Environ Health Perspect. 2001 Sep;109(9):937-41.

Formation of strong airway irritants in mixtures of isoprene/ozone and isoprene/ozone/nitrogen dioxide.

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National Institute of Occupational Health, Copenhagen, Denmark.


We evaluated the airway irritation of isoprene, isoprene/ozone, and isoprene/ozone/nitrogen dioxide mixtures using a mouse bioassay, from which we calculated sensory irritation, bronchial constriction, and pulmonary irritation. We observed significant sensory irritation (approximately 50% reduction of mean respiratory rate) by dynamically exposing the mice, over 30 min, to mixtures of isoprene and O3 or isoprene, O3, and NO2. The starting concentrations were approximately 4 ppm O3 and 500 ppm isoprene (+ approximately 4 ppm NO2. The reaction mixtures after approximately 30 sec contained < 0.2 ppm O3. Addition of the effects of the residual reactants and the identified stable irritant products (formaldehyde, formic acid, acetic acid, methacrolein, and methylvinyl ketone) could explain only partially the observed sensory irritation. This suggests that one or more strong airway irritants were formed. It is thus possible that oxidation reactions of common unsaturated compounds may be relevant for indoor air quality.

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