Effects on eyes and nose in humans after experimental exposure to airborne office dust

Indoor Air. 2000 Dec;10(4):237-45. doi: 10.1034/j.1600-0668.2000.010004237.x.


To test sensory irritation symptoms and physiological effects on humans caused by airborne office dust, ten subjects were exposed to both clean air and airborne non-industrial office dust for 3 h in a climate chamber. The average dust concentration in exposure sessions was 394 micrograms/m3 total suspended dust (TSD). Tear film break-up time, foam formation in the eye canthus, conjunctival epithelial damage, nasal volume, and nasal minimal cross-sectional area were assessed. Tear film break-up time decreased significantly after dust exposure and nasal volume showed a tendency to decrease. In a questionnaire investigation, significant effects were found from the questions: "facial skin humidity", "throat irritation", "feeling needs of coughing", "dry nose", "concentration difficulty", and "headache". Additionally, the intensity of the questions "facial skin humidity", "dry nose", "body skin temperature", "sluggishness", and "sleepiness" worsened over time. A correlation analysis showed that perceived "air quality" was significantly correlated with "dry eyes", "eye irritation", "facial skin irritation", "nose irritation", and "feeling stressed by chamber occupancy" for subacute responses, and with "odor intensity" for acute responses. This supports that the perceived air quality may be a function of odor and irritation symptoms. A number of localized symptoms of irritation (e.g. dry nose, throat irritation, coughing) and of general symptoms (e.g. sluggishness, sleepiness, headache, ability to concentration) were mutually correlated acutely and subacutely. These results indicate that non-industrial office dust may cause physiological changes and sensory symptoms in eyes and nose and that these effects have different time courses.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Air Pollution, Indoor / adverse effects*
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Dust / adverse effects*
  • Eye Diseases / chemically induced
  • Fatigue / etiology
  • Female
  • Headache / etiology
  • Humans
  • Inhalation Exposure
  • Male
  • Nasal Cavity / pathology
  • Sick Building Syndrome / etiology*


  • Dust