Sulfur dioxide (SO2) is a common air pollutant found in the workplace. Considerable variation exists in the airway responses of asthmatics to the inhalation of SO2. To determine if such variation among asthmatics is related to nonspecific airway reactivity, we compared the threshold doses of methacholine and SO2 required to produce significant changes in flow rates at 60% of the vital capacity below total lung capacity on the partial expiratory flow volume curve in a group of eight mildly asthmatic subjects. A significant correlation between the dose of SO2 and the dose of methacholine required to produce bronchoconstriction (r= .86, p<05) was observed, suggesting that there is a relationship between the response to S02 and the response to methacholine in mildly asthmatic individuals. More generally, nonspecific airway hyperreactivity may help to predict untoward airway responses to inhaled SO2 in the workplace.
©1985 The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine