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Moderate Increases in Ambient PM2.5 and Ozone Are Associated With Lung Function Decreases in Beach Lifeguards

Thaller, Ephraim I. MD; Petronella, Sharon A. PhD; Hochman, Dan MS; Howard, Shawn MS; Chhikara, Raj S. PhD; Brooks, Edward G. MD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: February 2008 - Volume 50 - Issue 2 - p 202-211
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e31816386b4
Original Articles

Objective: Exposure to pollutants would adversely affect lung function of healthy athletes.

Methods: Pulmonary function was recorded on beach lifeguards at three different times during the day. Daily and average peak pollutant levels were calculated. Linear regression analyses were made comparing lung function changes in response to pollutant levels. A multivariate model was constructed to explain the combined effects of pollutants.

Results: Afternoon forced vital capacity (FVC) and forced expired volume in 1 second (FEV1) decreased significantly compared with morning values and decreased with increasing fine particulates (PM2.5). FEV1/FVC decreased with increasing ozone (O3) levels.

Conclusion: The deleterious effect of PM2.5 and O3 were transient and occurred at pollutant levels far below national standards. At low levels of exposure, PM2.5 was associated with reduced lung volumes, while increasing O3 levels were associated with airway obstruction.

From the Department of Pediatrics (Drs Thaller, Petronella, Hochman, Brooks), The University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, Tex; and Division of Computing and Mathematics (Drs Howard, Chhikara), The University of Houston-Clear Lake, Houston, Tex.

E. Brooks is on the speaker's bureau for Astra-Zeneca.

Address correspondence to: Edward G. Brooks, MD, University of Texas Medical Branch, Department of Pediatrics, Child Health Research Center, 301 University Blvd., Galveston, TX 77555-0366; E-mail:

©2008The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine