Association of expired nitric oxide with occupational particulate exposure

Jee Young Kim, Matthew P. Wand, Russ Hauser, Sutapa Mukherjee, Robert F. Herrick, David C. Christiani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Particulate air pollution has been associated with adverse respiratory health effects. This study assessed the utility of expired nitric oxide to detect acute airway responses to metal-containing fine particulates. Using a repeated-measures study design, we investigated the association between the fractional concentration of expired nitric oxide (FENO) and exposure to particulate matter with an aerodynamic mass median diameter of ≤ 2.5 μm (PM2.5) in boilermakers exposed to residual oil fly ash and metal fumes. Subjects were monitored for 5 days during boiler repair overhauls in 1999 (n = 20 or 2000 (n = 14). The Wilcoxon median baseline FENO was 10.6 ppb [95% confidence interval (CI): 9.1, 12.7] in 1999 and 7.4 ppb (95% CI: 6.7, 8.0) in 2000. The Wilcoxon median PM2.5 8-hr time-weighted average was 0.56 mg/m3 (95% CI: 0.37, 0.93) in 1999 and 0.86 mg/m3 (95% CI: 0.65, 1.07) in 2000. FENO levels during the work week were significantly lower than baseline FENO in 1999 (p < 0.001). A significant inverse exposure-response relationship between log-transformed FENO and the previous workday's PM2.5 concentration was found in 1999, after adjusting for smoking status, age, and sampling year. With each 1 mg/m3 incremental increase in PM2.5 exposure, log FENO decreased by 0.24 (95% CI: -0.38, -0.10) in 1999. The lack of an exposure-response relationship between PM2.5 exposure and FENO in 2000 could be attributable to exposure misclassification resulting from the use of respirators. In conclusion, occupational exposure to metal-containing fine particulates was associated with significant decreases in FENO in a survey of workers with limited respirator usage.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)676-680
Number of pages5
JournalEnvironmental Health Perspectives
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2003
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

EHP is an open-access journal published with support from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, National Institutes of Health. All content is public domain unless otherwise noted.


  • Air pollutants
  • Epidemiology
  • Nitric oxide
  • Occupational
  • Particulate matter


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