We studied 14 unmedicated sulfur dioxide (S02)-sensitive asthmatics to test the hypothesis that SO2 exacerbates asthma more than other everyday respiratory stressors. In Phase I, subjects underwent controlled exposures to 0.0, 0.5, and 1.0 ppm SO2 with light, medium, and heavy exercise (average ventilation 30, 36, and 43 l/min, respectively). Lung function, symptoms of asthma, and psychophysical (stamina) changes were measured. Function, symptom, and stamina responses correlated modestly. Increasing SO2 had stronger unfavorable effects than increasing exercise. In Phase II, subjects performed eight different physical tasks in SO2-free ambient air while symptoms and stamina were measured. Fast stair-climbing evoked symptoms similar to the effects of 0.5 ppm SO2/light exercise, while stamina reduction was comparable to 0.5 ppm SO2/heavy exercise. In Phase III, subjects recorded time-activity patterns, symptoms, and stamina during randomly selected intervals on a typical weekday and weekend day. Most reported activities were sedentary. Infrequent, strenuous Phase III exercise increased symptoms more than did 0.5 ppm SO2/light exercise, but with less effect on stamina. We conclude that for typical mild asthmatics, ten-minute SO2 exposures at concentrations >0.5 ppm andventilation >30 l/min can cause short-term asthma manifestations more intense than those usually experienced from everyday stresses without SO2 exposure.
- sulfur dioxide
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis