ARB Research Seminar

This page updated July 26, 2013

Mechanisms of Particulate Toxicity: Effects on the Respiratory System

Kent E. Pinkerton, Ph.D., Univesity of California, Davis

January 07, 2003
Cal EPA Headquarters, 1001 "I" Street, Sacramento, CA

Research Project


Ambient exposure to particulate matter (PM) has been associated with a variety of adverse health effects primarily involving the cardiopulmonary system. However, the biological mechanisms to explain how exposure to PM exacerbates or directly causes adverse cardiopulmonary effects are unknown. This study was designed to determine if exposure to ammonium nitrate (NH4NO3) and carbon (C), two common components found in California PM, could be used to measure adverse biological changes in the respiratory tract of rats. These studies provide evidence for limited, but significant PM effects in the respiratory tract of healthy rats of all ages following short-term exposure to NH4NO3 and C. These findings further support the need for future studies to define the precise mechanisms of PM-induced lung injury and its potential interaction with ozone, even in healthy individuals.

Speaker Biography

Kent Pinkerton has been an active member of the academic community for the past 16 years. After completing his Ph.D. degree in Pathology, at Duke University in 1982, he served as a Research Associate and Assistant Medical Research Professor at Duke University through 1986. In 1986, Dr. Pinkerton joined the Department of Anatomy in the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of California, Davis as an Assistant Adjunct Professor. He became a Full Professor in 1998. Dr. Pinkerton also serves as Director of the Center for Health and the Environment. He has been an active teacher and vigorous research scientist during his service as a faculty member at U.C. Davis. Dr. Pinkerton has been very active in graduate and undergraduate education in Pulmonary Toxicology. He has worked with some 50 plus graduate students and postdoctoral fellows and has nurtured over 100 undergraduate students who have worked in his research laboratory. He has taught in graduate programs and courses in anatomy, immunology, pharmacology, pathology, and toxicology. Dr. Pinkerton attracts research funding from federal, state and private agencies. His research has mainly focused on the effects of environmental gases and particulates on lung structure and function, as well as cell-to-cell interactions in acute and chronic lung injury, mechanisms of synergism between combined environmental pollutants, and the effects of exogenous surfactant treatment and environmental tobacco smoke on lung growth and development. In collaboration with his students and colleagues, he has published over 100 papers in the scientific literature. Dr. Pinkerton enjoys teaching both graduate and undergraduate and consistently receives positive feedback from students at all levels. He serves on many review panels and service committees and most recently received the Favorite Teacher Award and Favorite Professor Award in the School of Veterinary Medicine (1998 and 2000).

Dr. Pinkerton's research interests include: respiratory biology and inhalation toxicology, health effects of environmental air pollutants, oxidant gases, acids, environmental tobacco smoke, asbestos, and lung growth and development.

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