Human health effects of exposure to airborne acid

Environ Health Perspect. 1989 Feb;79:195-9. doi: 10.1289/ehp.8979195.


This paper summarizes and critiques a series of reports on the health effects of acid aerosol exposure, presented at the Symposium on the Health Effects of Acid Aerosols and compares these data to selected previous studies. The role of the two major defenses against acid aerosols, the conversion of acid to the ammonium salts by respiratory ammonia and buffering of acid by airway surface liquid are discussed in relation to airway acid burdens expected from typical inhalation exposures. The roles of particle size and hygroscopicity on airway deposition of aerosol are also included. The major health effects studied were the effects of acid aerosol on mucociliary clearance in healthy individuals and changes in lung function in asthmatics, an important sensitive subpopulation. The broad range of response in asthmatics suggests the need for further study.

MeSH terms

  • Acid Rain / adverse effects*
  • Air Pollutants / adverse effects*
  • Asthma / etiology
  • Humans
  • Mucociliary Clearance / drug effects
  • Ozone / adverse effects*
  • Particle Size
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases / etiology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sulfuric Acids / adverse effects*


  • Acid Rain
  • Air Pollutants
  • Sulfuric Acids
  • Ozone
  • sulfuric acid