Environmental air pollution has decremental effects on pulmonary function test parameters up to one week after exposure

Arie Steinvil, Elizabeth Fireman, Levana Kordova-Biezuner, Michael Cohen, Itzhak Shapira, Shlomo Berliner, Ori Rogowski*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Recent exposure to air pollution has a decremental effect on pulmonary function. This short-term effect has only been studied for up to a few days postexposure. Our objective was to analyze the effect of air pollution on spirometric parameters in varying lag times of up to 1 week from the time of exposure. METHODS: Healthy subjects, never smokers, who were participants in the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center Inflammation Survey held between 2002 and 2007, were included if residing within an 11-km range to the nearest air pollution monitoring station. Linear regression models were applied to each lung function variable [first second of exhalation (FEV1), forced vital capacity (FVC), FEV1/FVC] against air pollutant variables (particulate matter under 10 μ in diameter, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, and ozone) for increasing lag periods of up to 7 days, and they were adjusted for possible confounders that affect air pollution and spirometric measurements. RESULTS: The study population comprised 2380 individuals. We found a statistically significant negative correlation between air pollutants, mainly SO2, and between FEV1 and FVC. This effect was significant from days 3 to 6, with a maximal effect noted for the fifth day and for the 7-day average before pulmonary function measurement. No significant change was found for FEV1/FVC ratio. CONCLUSIONS: Air pollution has a decremental effect on lung function parameters for up to 6 days after exposure in healthy adults. SO2 emerged as the most significant air pollutant affecting short-term lung function parameters.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)273-279
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of the Medical Sciences
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2009


  • Air pollution
  • Particulate matter
  • Pulmonary function testing


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