Acute exposure to acid fog: Effects on mucociliary clearance

B. L. Laube, S. M. Bowes, J. M. Links, K. K. Thomas, R. Frank

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Submicrometric sulfuric acid (H2SO4) aerosol can affect mucociliary clearance without eliciting irritative symptoms or changes in pulmonary function. The effect of larger fog droplets containing H2SO4 on mucociliary clearance is unknown. We quantified mucociliary clearance from the trachea (n = 4) and small airways (n = 7) of young healthy male adults after an acute exposure to H2SO4 fog (MMAD = 10.3 μm; pH = 2.0; liquid water content = 481 ± 65 mg/m3; osmolarity = 30 mOsm). Acid fog (AF) or saline fog (SF) (10.9 μm; 492 ± 116 mg/m3; 30 mOsm) was administered for 40 min of unencumbered breathing (no mouth-piece) at rest and for 20 min of exercise sufficient to produce oronasal breathing. Fog exposures were followed by a methacholine (MCh) challenge (a measure of airway reactivity) or inhalation of technetium-99M radioaerosol (MMAD = 3.4 μm) on 2 study days each. Changes in symptoms and forced ventilatory function were also assessed. Clearance was quantified from computer-assisted analyses of gamma camera images of the lower respiratory tract in terms of %removal/min of the radiolabel from the trachea 25 min after inhalation and from the outer zone of the right lung after 1.9 to 3 h. Symptoms, forced ventilatory function, and MCh response were unaffected by either fog. Tracheal clearance was more rapid in four of four subjects after AF (0.83 ± 1.58% removal/min) compared with that after SF (-0.54 ± 0.85% removal/min). Outer zone clearance was more rapid in six of seven subjects after AF (0.22 ± 0.15% removal/min) compared with that after SF (0.01 ± 0.09% removal/min). The association between outer zone clearance rate and the estimated amount of hydrogen ion inhaled orally was significant (r(s) = 0.79, p = 0.05). The mechanism(s) underlying these changes in regional clearance is unknown.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1105-1111
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Review of Respiratory Disease
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1993

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine

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