Ozone Exposure, Cardiopulmonary Health, and Obesity: A Substantive Review

Chem Res Toxicol. 2017 Jul 17;30(7):1384-1395. doi: 10.1021/acs.chemrestox.7b00077. Epub 2017 Jun 15.


From 1999-2014, obesity prevalence increased among adults and youth. Obese individuals may be uniquely susceptible to the proinflammatory effects of ozone because obese humans and animals have been shown to experience a greater decline in lung function than normal-weight subjects. Obesity is independently associated with limitations in lung mechanics with increased ozone dose. However, few epidemiologic studies have examined the interaction between excess weight and ozone exposure among adults. Using PubMed keyword searches and reference lists, we reviewed epidemiologic evidence to identify potential response-modifying factors and determine if obese or overweight adults are at increased risk of ozone-related health effects. We initially identified 170 studies, of which seven studies met the criteria of examining the interaction of excess weight and ozone exposure on cardiopulmonary outcomes in adults, including four short-term ozone exposure studies in controlled laboratory settings and three community epidemiologic studies. In the studies identified, obesity was associated with decreased lung function and increased inflammatory mediators. Results were inconclusive about the effect modification when data were stratified by sex. Obese and overweight populations should be considered as candidate at-risk groups for epidemiologic studies of cardiopulmonary health related to air pollution exposures. Air pollution is a modifiable risk factor that may decrease lung function among obese individuals with implications for environmental and occupational health policy.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollutants / adverse effects*
  • Animals
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / pathology*
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Lung / pathology*
  • Obesity / pathology*
  • Ozone / administration & dosage
  • Ozone / adverse effects*


  • Air Pollutants
  • Ozone