Detailed diesel exhaust characteristics including particle surface area and lung deposited dose for better understanding of health effects in human chamber exposure studies.

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Several diesel exhaust (DE) characteristics, comprising both particle and gas phase, recognized as important when linking with health effects, are not reported in human chamber exposure studies. In order to understand effects of DE on humans there is a need for better characterization of DE when performing exposure studies. The aim of this study was to determine and quantify detailed DE characteristics during human chamber exposure. Additionally to compare to reported DE properties in conducted human exposures. A wide battery of particle and gas phase measurement techniques have been used to provide detailed DE characteristics including the DE particles (DEP) surface area, fraction and dose deposited in the lungs, chemical composition of both particle and gas phase such as NO, NO2, CO, CO2, volatile organic compounds (including aldehydes, benzene, toluene) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Eyes, nose and throat irritation effects were determined. Exposure conditions with PM1 (<1 mm) mass concentration 280 mg m3, number concentration 4 105 cm3 and elemental to total carbon fraction of 82% were generated from a diesel vehicle at idling. When estimating the lung
deposited dose it was found that using the size dependent effective density (in contrast to assuming unity density) reduced the estimated respiratory dose by 132% by mass. Accounting for agglomerated structure of DEP prevented underestimation of lung deposited dose by surface area by 37% in comparison to assuming spherical particles. Comparison of DE characteristics reported in conducted chamber exposures
showed that DE properties vary to a great extent under the same DEP mass concentration and engine load. This highlights the need for detailed and standardized approach for measuring and reporting of DE properties. Eyes irritation effects, most probably caused by aldehydes in the gas phase, as
well as nose irritation were observed at exposure levels below current occupational exposure limit values given for exhaust fumes. Reporting detailed DE characteristics that include DEP properties (such as mass
and number concentration, size resolved information, surface area, chemical composition, lung deposited dose by number, mass and surface) and detailed gas phase including components known for their carcinogenic and irritation effect (e.g. aldehydes, benzene, PAHs) can help in determination of key parameters responsible for observed health effects and comparison of chamber exposure studies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)212-219
JournalAtmospheric Environment
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Meteorology and Atmospheric Sciences


  • Diesel exhaust characteristics
  • Human laboratory exposure
  • Particle surface area
  • Lung deposited dose


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