Acid fog is complex and contains multiple stimuli that may be capable of inducing bronchoconstriction. These stimuli include sulfuric and nitric acids, the principal inorganic acids present; sulfites, formed in the atmosphere as a reaction product of sulfur dioxide and water droplets; fog water itself, a hypoosmolar aerosol; the organic acid hydroxymethanesulfonate, the bisulfite adduct of formaldehyde; and gaseous pollutants, e.g., sulfur dioxide, oxides of nitrogen, ozone. Given this complexity, evaluation of the respiratory health effects of naturally occurring acid fog requires assessment of the bronchoconstrictor potency of each component stimulus and possible interactions among these stimuli. We summarize the results of three studies that involve characterization of the bronchoconstrictor potency of acid fog stimuli and/or their interaction in subjects with asthma. The results of the first study indicate that titratable acidity appears to be a more important stimulus to bronchoconstriction than is pH. The results of the second study demonstrate that sulfite species are capable of inducing bronchoconstriction, especially when inhaled at acid pH. The results of the third study suggest that acidity can potentiate hypoosmolar fog-induced bronchoconstriction.
Balmes, J. R., Fine, J. M., Gordon, T., & Sheppard, D. (1989). Potential bronchoconstrictor stimuli in acid dog. Environmental Health Perspectives, 79, 163–166. https://doi.org/10.1289/ehp.8979163