Sidestream tobacco smoke exposure acutely alters human nasal mucociliary clearance

R. Bascom, J. Kesavanathan, T. K. Fitzgerald, K. H. Cheng, D. L. Swift

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


Nasal mucociliary clearance (NMC) is a biomarker of nasal mucosal function. Tobacco smokers have been shown to have abnormal NMC, but the acute effect of environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) on nonsmokers is unknown. This study evaluated acute tobacco smoke-induced alterations in NMC in 12 healthy adults. Subjects were studied on 2 days, separated by at least 1 week. Subjects underwent a 60-min controlled exposure at rest to air or sidestream tobacco smoke (SS) (15 ppm CO) in a controlled environmental chamber. One hour after the exposure, 99mTc-sulfur colloid was aerosolized throughout the nasal passage and counts were measured with a scintillation detector. Six out of 12 subjects showed more rapid clearance after smoke exposure than after air exposure, and 3/12 had rapid clearance on both days. However, substantial decreases in clearance occurred in 3/12 subjects, all of whom had a history of ETS rhinitis. In two subjects, more than 90% of the tracer remained 1 hr after tracer administration (2 hr after smoke exposure). Understanding the basis for biologic variability in the acute effect of tobacco smoke on NMC may advance our understanding of pathogenesis of chronic effects of ETS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1026-1030
Number of pages5
JournalEnvironmental health perspectives
Issue number11
StatePublished - 1995

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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