Health effects of inhaled gasoline engine emissions

Inhal Toxicol. 2007:19 Suppl 1:107-16. doi: 10.1080/08958370701495279.


Despite their prevalence in the environment, and the myriad studies that have shown associations between morbidity or mortality with proximity to roadways (proxy for motor vehicle exposures), relatively little is known about the toxicity of gasoline engine emissions (GEE). We review the studies conducted on GEE to date, and summarize the findings from each of these studies. While there have been several studies, most of the studies were conducted prior to 1980 and thus were not conducted with contemporary engines, fuels, and driving cycles. In addition, many of the biological assays conducted during those studies did not include many of the assays that are conducted on contemporary inhalation exposures to air pollutants, including cardiovascular responses and others. None of the exposures from these earlier studies were characterized at the level of detail that would be considered adequate today. A recent GEE study was conducted as part of the National Environmental Respiratory Center ( In this study several in-use mid-mileage General Motors (Chevrolet S-10) vehicles were purchased and utilized for inhalation exposures. An exposure protocol was developed where engines were operated with a repeating California Unified Driving Cycle with one cold start per day. Two separate engines were used to provide two cold starts over a 6-h inhalation period. The exposure atmospheres were characterized in detail, including detailed chemical and physical analysis of the gas, vapor, and particle phase. Multiple rodent biological models were studied, including general toxicity and inflammation (e.g., serum chemistry, lung lavage cell counts/differentials, cytokine/chemokine analysis, histopathology), asthma (adult and in utero exposures with pulmonary function and biochemical analysis), cardiovascular effects (biochemical and electrocardiograph changes in susceptible rodent models), and susceptibility to infection (Pseudomonas bacteria challenge). GEE resulted in significant biological effects for upregulation of MIP-2, clearance of Pseudomonas bacteria, development of allergic response after in utero exposure, and cardiovascular indicators of vasoconstriction, oxidant stress, and damage.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • DNA Damage / drug effects
  • DNA Damage / physiology
  • Gasoline / analysis*
  • Gasoline / toxicity
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Inhalation Exposure / adverse effects
  • Inhalation Exposure / analysis*
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects
  • Oxidative Stress / physiology
  • Time Factors
  • Vehicle Emissions / analysis*
  • Vehicle Emissions / toxicity


  • Gasoline
  • Vehicle Emissions