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LOW-LEVEL CARBON MONOXIDE EXPOSURE AND WORK CAPACITY AT 1600 METERS
Weiser, P., G. Cropp, C. Morrill, T. Kurt, AND D. Dickey. LOW-LEVEL CARBON MONOXIDE EXPOSURE AND WORK CAPACITY AT 1600 METERS. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, D.C., EPA/600/1-79/037 (NTIS PB80129083), 1979.
At sea level, low-level carbon monoxide (CO) exposure impairs exercise performance. To determine if altitude residence at 1600 m augments this CO effect, two studies of graded treadmill work capacity were done. The Initial Study investigated nine, non-smoking male subjects breathing either filtered air (FA) or 28 ppm CO in filtered air. End-exercise carboxyhemoglobin (HbCO) levels averaged 0.9 %HbCO breathing FA and 4.7 %HbCO breathing CO. Total work performance and aerobic work capacity were reduced. Work heart rate was elevated, and post-exercise left ventricular ejection time breathing CO did not shorten to the same degree as with FA exposure. CO exposure resulted in a lower anaerobic threshold, and a greater minute ventilation occurred at work rates heavier than the anaerobic threshold due to an increased blood lactate level. The Dose-Response Study exposed twelve subjects to FA or CO such that the end-exercise HbCO levels were 0.7, 3.5, 5.4 and 8.7 %HbCO. Exercise performance and aerobic work capacity were impaired in proportion to the CO exposure. In both studies, maximal cardio-pulmonary responses were not different, but submaximal exercise changes were elevated breathing CO. Thus, in healthy young men residing near 1600 m, an increase in low-level CO exposure produced a linear decrement in maximal aerobic performance similar to that reported at sea level.