Generation and characterization of four dilutions of diesel engine exhaust for a subchronic inhalation study

Environ Sci Technol. 2004 May 1;38(9):2513-22. doi: 10.1021/es035024v.


Exposure atmospheres for a rodent inhalation toxicology study were generated from the exhaust of a 2000 Cummins ISB 5.9L diesel engine coupled to a dynamometer and operated on a slightly modified heavy-duty Federal Test Procedure cycle. Exposures were conducted to one clean air control and four diesel exhaust levels maintained at four different dilution rates (300:1, 100:1, 30:1, 10:1) that yielded particulate mass concentrations of 30, 100, 300, and 1000 microg/m3. Exposures at the four dilutions were characterized for particle mass, particle size distribution (reported elsewhere), detailed chemical speciation of gaseous, semivolatile, and particle-phase inorganic and organic compounds. Target analytes included metals, inorganic ions and gases, organic and elemental carbon, alkanes, alkenes, aromatic and aliphatic acids, aromatic hydrocarbons, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), oxygenated PAH, nitrogenated PAH, isoprenoids, carbonyls, methoxyphenols, sugar derivatives, and sterols. The majority of the mass of material in the exposure atmospheres was gaseous nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxide, with lesser amounts of volatile organics and particle mass (PM) composed of carbon (approximately 90% of PM) and ions (approximately 10% of PM). Measured particle organic species accounted for about 10% of total organic particle mass and were mostly alkanes and aliphatic acids. Several of the components in the exposure atmosphere scaled in concentration with dilution but did not scale precisely with the dilution rate because of background from the rodents and scrubbed dilution air, interaction of animal derived emissions with diesel exhaust components, and day-to-day variability in the output of the engine. Rodent-derived ammonia reacted with exhaust to form secondary inorganic particles (at different rates dependent on dilution), and rodent respiration accounted for volatile organics (especially carbonyls and acids) in the same range as the diesel exhaust at the lowest exhaust exposure concentrations. Day-to-day variability in the engine output was implicated partially for differences of several components, including some of the particle bound organics. Though these observations have likely occurred in nearly all inhalation exposure atmospheres that contain complex mixtures of material, the speciations conducted here illustrate many of them for the first time.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Data Collection
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Inhalation Exposure*
  • Metals, Heavy / analysis
  • Metals, Heavy / toxicity*
  • Particle Size
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons / analysis
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons / toxicity*
  • Reference Values
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Rodentia
  • Toxicity Tests / methods
  • Vehicle Emissions / adverse effects*
  • Vehicle Emissions / analysis*


  • Metals, Heavy
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons
  • Vehicle Emissions