Student Research: Anne Golaz

Airway Effects of Controlled Human Exposure to Toluene
Faculty Advisor: 


The purpose of this study was to evaluate acute airway obstruction and upper airway inflammation afer controlled exposure to 50 ppm of toluene (half of the US Permissible Exposure Level).

Lung function, nassal lavage and subjective response of 8 healthy subjects were assessed before and after a 2 hour exposure to air or toluene. All subjects wecept one complained of mucous membrane irritation during toluene exposure. Nasal and throat irritation were the most frequent complaints (6/8) followed bu ocular irritation and headache (4/8). The pre and post-exposure differences for FVC, FEV1 and the PEF after toluene exposure were not statistically significant when compared to air. There was a significant difference (p=0.031 one tail) for FEF25-75 indicating a possible effect on smaller airways. For 5 subjects, the number of nasal neutrophils increased from 2 to 6-fold after exposure to toluene, but when compared to air that increase was not statistically significant (p=0.170).

The results suggest that toluene exposure may cause inflammation of the mucous membranes and acute decrements in small airway function.