Comparative short-term health responses to sulfur dioxide exposure and other common stresses in a panel of asthmatics

Henry Gong, William S. Linn, Peter A. Lachenbruch, Philip Harber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


We studied 14 unmedicated sulfur dioxide (S02)-sensitive asthmatics to test the hypothesis that SO2 exacerbates asthma more than other everyday respiratory stressors. In Phase I, subjects underwent controlled exposures to 0.0, 0.5, and 1.0 ppm SO2 with light, medium, and heavy exercise (average ventilation 30, 36, and 43 l/min, respectively). Lung function, symptoms of asthma, and psychophysical (stamina) changes were measured. Function, symptom, and stamina responses correlated modestly. Increasing SO2 had stronger unfavorable effects than increasing exercise. In Phase II, subjects performed eight different physical tasks in SO2-free ambient air while symptoms and stamina were measured. Fast stair-climbing evoked symptoms similar to the effects of 0.5 ppm SO2/light exercise, while stamina reduction was comparable to 0.5 ppm SO2/heavy exercise. In Phase III, subjects recorded time-activity patterns, symptoms, and stamina during randomly selected intervals on a typical weekday and weekend day. Most reported activities were sedentary. Infrequent, strenuous Phase III exercise increased symptoms more than did 0.5 ppm SO2/light exercise, but with less effect on stamina. We conclude that for typical mild asthmatics, ten-minute SO2 exposures at concentrations >0.5 ppm andventilation >30 l/min can cause short-term asthma manifestations more intense than those usually experienced from everyday stresses without SO2 exposure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)467-487
Number of pages21
JournalToxicology and Industrial Health
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1995
Externally publishedYes


  • asthma
  • exercise
  • sulfur dioxide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


Dive into the research topics of 'Comparative short-term health responses to sulfur dioxide exposure and other common stresses in a panel of asthmatics'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this