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Respir Med. 2011 Nov;105(11):1766-8. doi: 10.1016/j.rmed.2011.08.003. Epub 2011 Aug 19.

Short-term effects of air pollution from biomass burning in mucociliary clearance of Brazilian sugarcane cutters.

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Department of Physiotherapy, State University of Sao Paulo, Brazil.


Nasal mucociliary system is the first line of defense of the upper airways and may be affected acutely by exposure to particulate matter (PM) from biomass burning. Several epidemiologic studies have demonstrated a consistent association between levels of air pollution from biomass burning with increases in hospitalization for respiratory diseases and mortality. To determine the acute effects of exposure to particulate matter from biomass burning in nasal mucociliary transport by saccharin transit time (STT) test, we studied thirty-three non-smokers and twelve light smokers sugarcane cutters in two periods: pre-harvest season and 4 h after harvest at the first day after biomass burning. Lung function, exhaled carbon monoxide (CO), nasal symptoms questionnaire and mucociliary clearance (MC) were assessed. Exhaled CO was increased in smokers compared to non-smokers but did not change significantly after harvest. In contrast, STT was similar between smokers and non-smokers and decreased significantly after harvest in both groups (p < 0.001). Exposure to PM from biomass burning did not influence nasal symptoms. Our results suggest that acute exposure to particulate matter from sugarcane burned affects mucociliary clearance in smokers and non-smokers workers in the absence of symptoms.

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