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Arch Environ Health. 1992 Jul-Aug;47(4):309-13.

Breath ammonia depletion and its relevance to acidic aerosol exposure studies.

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Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute, UMDNJ, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Piscataway, New Jersey.


It is thought that gaseous ammonia in breath neutralizes acidic air pollution and thereby potentially mitigates the pulmonary effects of pollution. The efficacy of breath ammonia depletion methods reported in recent acid aerosol exposure-health response studies was investigated. Fourteen subjects (21 to 54 y of age) performed one or more of the following hygiene maneuvers: (a) acidic oral rinse (pH 2.5); (b) tooth brushing, followed by acidic oral rinse; (c) tooth brushing, followed by distilled water rinse; and (d) distilled water rinse. Initial ammonia levels ranged from 120 to 1,280 ppb (147-1,570 micrograms/m3). Acidic rinsing resulted in an immediate 90% reduction in exhaled ammonia in all subjects, and a return to 50% of baseline levels occurred within 1 h. Depletion that resulted from tooth brushing or distilled water alone was not significant. It was concluded that acidic oral rinsing is an effective method of reducing airway ammonia, but repeated oral rinsing may be required to maintain consistent, low-breath-ammonia conditions during acid aerosol exposure studies.

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