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International journal of hygiene and environmental health

The German view: effects of nitrogen dioxide on human health--derivation of health-related short-term and long-term values.


PMID 16078645

Abstract

The presented overview concerning health relevant effects caused by nitrogen dioxide (NO2) resumes the current state of results from animal experiments and human studies (epidemiology and short-term chambers studies). NO2 concentrations applied in animal experiments were mostly considerably higher than in ambient air. Therefore, short- and long-term limit values were derived from human data. Experimental studies conducted with humans demonstrate effects after short-term exposure to concentrations at or above 400 microg NO2/m3. Effects on patients with light asthma could not be observed after short-term exposure to concentrations below 200 microg/m3. On basis of epidemiological long-term studies a threshold below which no effect on human health is expected could not be specified. Two short-term limit values have been proposed to protect public health: a 1-h value of 100 microg/m3 and a 24-h mean value of 50 microg/m3. Due to the limitations of epidemiological studies to disentangle effects of single pollutants, a long-term limit value cannot be easily derived. However, applying the precautionary principle, it is desirable to adopt an annual mean of 20 microg NO2/m3 as a long-term mean standard to protect public health.