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Efficiency of automotive cabin air filters to reduce acute health effects of diesel exhaust in human subjects.
  1. B Rudell,
  2. U Wass,
  3. P Hörstedt,
  4. J O Levin,
  5. R Lindahl,
  6. U Rannug,
  7. A L Sunesson,
  8. Y Ostberg,
  9. T Sandström
  1. Department of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, University Hospital, Umeå, Sweden.


    OBJECTIVES: To evaluate the efficiency of different automotive cabin air filters to prevent penetration of components of diesel exhaust and thereby reduce biomedical effects in human subjects. Filtered air and unfiltered diluted diesel exhaust (DDE) were used as negative and positive controls, respectively, and were compared with exposure to DDE filtered with four different filter systems. METHODS: 32 Healthy non-smoking subjects (age 21-53) participated in the study. Each subject was exposed six times for 1 hour in a specially designed exposure chamber: once to air, once to unfiltered DDE, and once to DDE filtered with the four different cabin air filters. Particle concentrations during exposure to unfiltered DDE were kept at 300 micrograms/m3. Two of the filters were particle filters. The other two were particle filters combined with active charcoal filters that might reduce certain gaseous components. Subjective symptoms were recorded and nasal airway lavage (NAL), acoustic rhinometry, and lung function measurements were performed. RESULTS: The two particle filters decreased the concentrations of diesel exhaust particles by about half, but did not reduce the intensity of symptoms induced by exhaust. The combination of active charcoal filters and a particle filter significantly reduced the symptoms and discomfort caused by the diesel exhaust. The most noticable differences in efficacy between the filters were found in the reduction of detection of an unpleasant smell from the diesel exhaust. In this respect even the two charcoal filter combinations differed significantly. The efficacy to reduce symptoms may depend on the abilities of the filters investigated to reduce certain hydrocarbons. No acute effects on NAL, rhinometry, and lung function variables were found. CONCLUSIONS: This study has shown that the use of active charcoal filters, and a particle filter, clearly reduced the intensity of symptoms induced by diesel exhaust. Complementary studies on vehicle cabin air filters may result in further diminishing the biomedical effects of diesel exhaust in subjects exposed in traffic and workplaces.

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