Chemicals & Human Health

Lung Toxicology Problem Set

Problem 8: Oxidants

Oxidants are one toxic component of cigarette smoke. Why are they dangerous?

A. They block surfactant secretion so that alveoli collapse.
B. They block the oxygen carrying capacity of hemoglobin.
C. They cause cilia to quit beating so lungs get clogged with particles.
D. They can damage the DNA of lung cells much like the sun damages skin cells.
Oxidants cause cell damage by creating free radicals. Free radicals are highly reactive molecules which can bind to DNA and cause mutations. Such mutations could eventually lead to cancer.

The Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center
The Biology Project
The University of Arizona
Tuesday, October 14, 1997
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