Sidestream tobacco smoke exposure acutely alters human nasal mucociliary clearance

Environ Health Perspect. 1995 Nov;103(11):1026-30. doi: 10.1289/ehp.951031026.


Nasal mucociliary clearance (NMC) is a biomarker of nasal mucosal function. Tobacco smokers have been shown to have abnormal NMC, but the acute effect of environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) on nonsmokers is unknown. This study evaluated acute tobacco smoke-induced alterations in NMC in 12 healthy adults. Subjects were studied on 2 days, separated by at least 1 week. Subjects underwent a 60-min controlled exposure at rest to air or sidestream tobacco smoke (SS) (15 ppm CO) in a controlled environmental chamber. One hour after the exposure, 99mTc-sulfur colloid was aerosolized throughout the nasal passage and counts were measured with a scintillation detector. Six out of 12 subjects showed more rapid clearance after smoke exposure than after air exposure, and 3/12 had rapid clearance on both days. However, substantial decreases in clearance occurred in 3/12 subjects, all of whom had a history of ETS rhinitis. In two subjects, more than 90% of the tracer remained 1 hr after tracer administration (2 hr after smoke exposure). Understanding the basis for biologic variability in the acute effect of tobacco smoke on NMC may advance our understanding of pathogenesis of chronic effects of ETS.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mucociliary Clearance / drug effects*
  • Nasal Mucosa / drug effects*
  • Nasal Mucosa / physiopathology
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution / adverse effects*


  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution