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Environ Health Perspect. 1996 May; 104(5): 492–499.
PMCID: PMC1469351
Research Article

Health effects of acid aerosols on North American children: air pollution exposures.


Air pollution measurements were conducted over a 1-year period in 24 North American communities participating in a respiratory health study. Ozone, particle strong acidity, sulfate, and mass (PM10 and PM2.1) were measured in all communities. In 20 of the communities, sulfur dioxide, ammonia, nitric acid, nitrous acid, and particulate nitrate were measured. The sampler was located centrally in the community whenever possible and samples were collected every other day. Concentrations of particle strong acidity, mass, sulfate, and ozone were highly correlated both in the region of the country defined as a high-sulfur source area and in the downwind transport regions. These regions of the eastern United States and southern Canada experienced the greatest particle strong acidity, sulfate, and particle mass concentrations during the spring and summer months (May-September). The particle strong acidity concentrations were highest in regions close to the high sulfur emission areas of the United States; that is, in the area immediately to the west of the Appalachian Plateau and west of the Allegheny Mountains (western Pennsylvania, eastern Ohio, and West Virginia) up through southern Ontario. The frequency of particle strong acidity events decreased with transport distance from the region of highest sulfur emissions. Low particle strong acidity and sulfates were found at the western and midwestern sites of both the United States and Canada. Substantial concentrations of nitric acid were found in two of the California sites as well as many sites in the northeastern portion of the United States. Sites selected for the epidemiologic study provide a range of annual mean particle strong acidity exposures from below the limit of detection to more than 50 nmol/m3.

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