Use of physical chemistry and in vivo exposure to investigate the toxicity of formaldehyde bound to carbonaceous particles in the murine lung.

G. J. Jakab, T. H. Risby, D. R. Hemenway

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Knowledge about the health effects of exposure to formaldehyde associated with automotive emissions is of pivotal importance in the risk assessment of this agent. Mobile sources emit many combustion-derived pollutants, including formaldehyde, in association with respirable carbon particles. Because it is hydrophilic, most of the inhaled formaldehyde is absorbed in the upper respiratory tract. However, if the organic vapor is adsorbed on respirable particles, formaldehyde may be deposited in the deep lung with the inhaled particles and may be available to interact adversely with cells along the lung parenchyma. On the respiratory surface, the alveolar macrophage phagocytic system plays the pivotal role in defending the lung against infectious agents. Susceptibility to respiratory infections is a relevant and sensitive indicator of the adverse effects of air pollution because acute and chronic exposures to a variety of air pollutants have been shown to decrease pulmonary antibacterial defenses. The goal of this research was to investigate whether exposure to formaldehyde decreases resistance to respiratory infections through dysfunctions of the alveolar macrophage phagocytic system. The study also explored whether interactions between formaldehyde and respirable carbon black particles alter susceptibility to respiratory infections and impairment of alveolar macrophage phagocytosis by delivering adsorbed formaldehyde to the deep lung with the inhaled particles. A carbon black, Regal GR, was used in these studies as a surrogate for the carbonaceous core of Diesel particulate matter. This material was selected to represent the worst-case scenario because the carbon black was expected to adsorb formaldehyde strongly. To accomplish this goal, mice were exposed to formaldehyde and to carbon black and formaldehyde combinations; increased susceptibility to respiratory infections was quantified by alveolar macrophage-dependent intrapulmonary killing of Staphylococcus aureus after an inhalation challenge with the bacterium. The salient findings of the bactericidal studies are as follows: Fifteen parts per million (ppm)* formaldehyde impaired the intrapulmonary killing of S. aureus when exposure followed the bacterial challenge. One ppm formaldehyde impaired the intrapulmonary killing of S. aureus when exposure preceded and was continued after the bacterial challenge. Coexposures to target concentrations of 3.5 mg/m3 carbon black and 2.5 ppm formaldehyde, or 10 mg/m3 carbon black and 5 ppm formaldehyde after the bacterial challenge had no effect on the intrapulmonary killing of S. aureus. Preexposure for four hours per day for four days to target concentrations of 3.5 mg/m3 carbon black and 2.5 ppm formaldehyde had no effect on the intrapulmonary killing of S. aureus when the assay was performed one day after the cessation of exposure.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-39, discussion 41-49
JournalResearch report (Health Effects Institute)
Issue number53
StatePublished - Oct 1992

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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