The potential for seasonal differences in the physicochemical characteristics of ambient particulate matter (PM) to modify interactive effects with gaseous pollutants has not been thoroughly examined. The purpose of this study was to compare cardiac responses in conscious hypertensive rats co-exposed to concentrated ambient particulates (CAPs) and ozone (O3) in Durham, NC during the summer and winter, and to analyze responses based on particle mass and chemistry.
Rats were exposed once for 4 hrs by whole-body inhalation to fine CAPs alone (target concentration: 150 μg/m3), O3 (0.2 ppm) alone, CAPs plus O3, or filtered air during summer 2011 and winter 2012. Telemetered electrocardiographic (ECG) data from implanted biosensors were analyzed for heart rate (HR), ECG parameters, heart rate variability (HRV), and spontaneous arrhythmia. The sensitivity to triggering of arrhythmia was measured in a separate cohort one day after exposure using intravenously administered aconitine. PM elemental composition and organic and elemental carbon fractions were analyzed by high-resolution inductively coupled plasma–mass spectrometry and thermo-optical pyrolytic vaporization, respectively. Particulate sources were inferred from elemental analysis using a chemical mass balance model.
Seasonal differences in CAPs composition were most evident in particle mass concentrations (summer, 171 μg/m3; winter, 85 μg/m3), size (summer, 324 nm; winter, 125 nm), organic:elemental carbon ratios (summer, 16.6; winter, 9.7), and sulfate levels (summer, 49.1 μg/m3; winter, 16.8 μg/m3). Enrichment of metals in winter PM resulted in equivalent summer and winter metal exposure concentrations. Source apportionment analysis showed enrichment for anthropogenic and marine salt sources during winter exposures compared to summer exposures, although only 4% of the total PM mass was attributed to marine salt sources. Single pollutant cardiovascular effects with CAPs and O3 were present during both summer and winter exposures, with evidence for unique effects of co-exposures and associated changes in autonomic tone.
These findings provide evidence for a pronounced effect of season on PM mass, size, composition, and contributing sources, and exposure-induced cardiovascular responses. Although there was inconsistency in biological responses, some cardiovascular responses were evident only in the co-exposure group during both seasons despite variability in PM physicochemical composition. These findings suggest that a single ambient PM metric alone is not sufficient to predict potential for interactive health effects with other air pollutants.
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