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Journal of Toxicology
Volume 2011 (2011), Article ID 487074, 9 pages
Review Article

Oxidative Stress and Air Pollution Exposure

Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Florence, Viale Pieraccini 6, 50139 Florence, Italy

Received 15 December 2010; Revised 10 May 2011; Accepted 30 June 2011

Academic Editor: Susan Sumner

Copyright © 2011 Maura Lodovici and Elisabetta Bigagli. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Air pollution is associated with increased cardiovascular and pulmonary morbidity and mortality. The mechanisms of air pollution-induced health effects involve oxidative stress and inflammation. As a matter of fact, particulate matter (PM), especially fine (PM2.5, PM < 2.5 μm) and ultrafine (PM0.1, PM < 0.1 μm) particles, ozone, nitrogen oxides, and transition metals, are potent oxidants or able to generate reactive oxygen species (ROS). Oxidative stress can trigger redox-sensitive pathways that lead to different biological processes such as inflammation and cell death. However, it does appear that the susceptibility of target organ to oxidative injury also depends upon its ability to upregulate protective scavenging systems. As vehicular traffic is known to importantly contribute to PM exposure, its intensity and quality must be strongly relevant determinants of the qualitative characteristics of PM spread in the atmosphere. Change in the composition of this PM is likely to modify its health impact.