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Arch Environ Health. 1991 May-Jun;46(3):135-44.

Pulmonary function and ambient particulate matter: epidemiological evidence from NHANES I.

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  • 1RCG/Hagler, Bailly, Inc., Boulder, Colorado.


The relationship between pulmonary function and quarterly average levels of total suspended particulates (TSP) was examined for adults who resided in 49 of the locations where the First National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES I) was conducted. Statistically significant relationships were observed between TSP levels and forced vital capacity (FVC) and forced expiratory volume at one second (FEV1.0). These relationships remained strong across several specifications and sample changes, e.g., exclusion of cities with two highest and two lowest TSP levels, restriction of sample to whites only. Anthropometric measurements and socioeconomic characteristics of the subjects were included in the analysis, and we restricted the sample to "never" smokers. The results indicate a 1 standard deviation increase (about 34 micrograms/m3) in TSP from the sample mean of 87 micrograms/m3 was associated with an average decrease in FVC of 2.25%. The results of this analysis also suggest that there is a threshold level (i.e., approximately 60 micrograms/m3 [quarterly average]) of TSP below which a relationship with pulmonary function ceases to exist.

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