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Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2004 Aug 15;170(4):383-7. Epub 2004 May 13.

Ambient air pollution and oxygen saturation.

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Channing Laboratory, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, 181 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


We investigated the association between fine particulate air pollution and oxygen saturation as measured with a peripheral oxygen saturation monitor during a 12-week repeated-measures study of 28 older Boston residents. Oxygen saturation and air pollution particulates with a mean diameter less than or equal to 2.5 microm were measured continuously during a protocol of rest, standing, exercise, postexercise rest, and 20 cycles of slow, paced breathing. In fixed-effect models, mean pollution concentration was associated with reduced oxygen saturation during the baseline rest period (6 hours: mean, -0.173%; 95% confidence interval [CI], -0.345 to -0.001), postexercise (6 hours: mean, -0.173%; 95% CI, -0.332 to -0.014), with a trend toward decrease during postexercise paced breathing (6 hours: mean, -0.142%; 95% CI, -0.292 to 0.007) but not during exercise. Participants taking beta-blockers had a greater pollution-related decrease in oxygen saturation at rest (6 hours: mean, -0.769%; 95% CI, -1.210 to -0.327) (interaction for particulates with a mean diameter less than or equal to 2.5 microm by beta-blocker, p < 0.0005) than did those not taking beta-blockers (p > 0.25). The reduction in oxygen saturation associated with air pollution may result from subtle particulate-related pulmonary vascular and/or inflammatory changes. Further investigation may contribute to our understanding of the mechanisms through which particulates may increase respiratory and cardiac morbidity among vulnerable populations.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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