Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease symptom effects of long-term cumulative exposure to ambient levels of total oxidants and nitrogen dioxide in California Seventh-Day Adventist residents

Arch Environ Health. Jul-Aug 1988;43(4):279-85. doi: 10.1080/00039896.1988.10545950.


To assess the risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease symptoms due to long-term exposure to ambient levels of total oxidants and nitrogen dioxide (NO2), symptoms were ascertained using the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) respiratory symptoms questionnaire. A total of 7,445 Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) nonsmokers who were 25 yr of age or older and had resided at least 11 yr in areas of California with high to low photochemical air pollution were included in this study. Cumulative exposures to each pollutant in excess of four thresholds were estimated for each participant, using zip codes for months of residence and interpolated dosages from state air-monitoring stations. Multiple logistic regression analyses were conducted individually and together for pollutants and included eight covariables, including passive smoking. A statistically significant association with chronic symptoms was seen for total oxidants above 10 pphm (196 mcg/m3) (p less than .004, relative risk of 1.20 for 750 hr/yr). Chronic respiratory disease symptoms were not associated with relatively low NO2 exposure levels in this population. When these pollutant exposures were studied with exposures to total suspended particulates (TSP) and sulfur dioxide (SO2), only TSP exposure above 200 mcg/m3 showed statistical significance (p less than .01). Exposure to TSP is either more strongly associated with symptoms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease than the other measured exposures or is the best single surrogate representing the mix of pollutants present.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Air Pollutants / adverse effects*
  • California
  • Christianity
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung Diseases, Obstructive / chemically induced*
  • Male
  • Maximum Allowable Concentration
  • Nitrogen Dioxide / adverse effects*
  • Nitrogen Dioxide / analysis
  • Ozone / adverse effects*
  • Ozone / analysis
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sulfur Dioxide / adverse effects
  • Sulfur Dioxide / analysis


  • Air Pollutants
  • Sulfur Dioxide
  • Ozone
  • Nitrogen Dioxide