Research Program Area: Health & Exposure
Topic Areas: Health Effects of Air Pollution
In assessing the biological effects of air pollutants we are confronted with basically two types of situations. The first one is to assess the possible effects of long-term exposure to low levels of pollutants in order to establish at what levels individuals can be exposed without significant increase in respiratory diseases, pulmonary impairment, possible shortening of expected life span, etc. The second one is to assess the possible effects of short-term exposures, air pollution episode types, when the concentration of pollutants may rise several folds above normal background levels due to a variety of reasons. In this case possible effects such as sensory irritation of the eye-nose-throat and effects on the bronchial tree as well as on deeper pulmonary structures are important to evaluate. In this case not only must the acute effects be evaluated per se but also considerations must be given to the possible effects from repeated exposures to these levels. We must also be concerned about the effects on some sensitive sub-groups as well as on healthy individuals within the exposed population. There will obviously be some cut-off point as far as evaluating the effects on sensitive sub-groups since there is an infinite number of them. Quite frankly an arbitrary decision will be made as to the level of protection to be reached. In this article an attempt is made to evaluate the methodology used to investigate the effects of pollutants which primarily affect the respiratory tract. The article is divided into two parts: short-term and long-term effects and concerned with methodology used in laboratory animals.
For questions regarding this research project, including available data and progress status, contact: Research Division staff at (916) 445-0753
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