Evaluation of an exposure setup for studying effects of diesel exhaust in humans

Int Arch Occup Environ Health. 1994;66(2):77-83. doi: 10.1007/BF00383361.


Diesel exhaust is a common air pollutant and work exposure has been reported to cause discomfort and affect lung function. The aim of this study was to develop an experimental setup which would allow investigation of acute effects on symptoms and lung function in humans exposed to diluted diesel exhaust. Diluted diesel exhaust was fed from an idling lorry through heated tubes into an exposure chamber. During evaluations of the setup we found the size and the shape of the exhaust particles to appear unchanged during the transport from the tail pipe to the exposure chamber. The composition of the diesel exhaust expressed as the ratios CO/NO, total hydrocarbons/NO, particles/NO, NO2/NO, and formaldehyde/NO were almost constant at different dilutions. The concentrations of NO2 and particles in the exposure chamber showed no obvious gradients. New steady state concentrations in the exposure chamber were obtained within 5-7 min. In a separate experiment eight healthy nonsmoking subjects were exposed to diluted exhaust at a median steady state concentration of 1.6 ppm NO2 for the duration of 1 h in the exposure chamber. All subjects experienced unpleasant smell, eye irritation, and nasal irritation. Throat irritation, headache, dizziness, nausea, tiredness, and coughing were experienced by some subjects. Lung function was not found to be affected during the exposure. The experimental setup was found to be appropriate for creating different predetermined steady state concentrations in the exposure chamber of diluted exhaust from a continuously idling vehicle. The acute symptoms reported by the subjects were relatively similar to what patients reported at different workplaces.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Atmosphere Exposure Chambers
  • Bronchial Spasm / chemically induced*
  • Bronchoalveolar Lavage Fluid / chemistry
  • Burns, Chemical / etiology*
  • Environmental Pollutants / adverse effects*
  • Eye Burns / chemically induced*
  • Gasoline / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Lung / drug effects
  • Nitrogen Dioxide / adverse effects
  • Nitrogen Dioxide / analysis
  • Respiratory Function Tests


  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Gasoline
  • Nitrogen Dioxide