Occupational Asthma Reference

Onizuka R, Tanabe K, Nakayama Y, Fukuchi T, Nakata K, Hiki T, A case of chrome asthma induced by exposure to the stone cutter dust, Arerugi, 2006;55:1556-1561,

Keywords: case report, chrome, stone mason, dermatitis, patch test

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Abstract

The case of a forty-six year old, male patient with asthma caused by exposure to dust containing chrome is presented. When the patient was nineteen years old, he started working as a stonemason in a factory. He cut and ground stone with a stone-cutter to make statues and tombstones. Three years after staring to work, contact dermatitis was observed on his arms and hands. Within six years of work, he suffered from chronic coughing. After eight years, he experienced bronchial asthma attacks with wheezing and dyspnea. He had been exposed to dust for eight years before developing asthma. The symptoms increased gradually. He fell into severe asthma attacks causing unconsciousness and dyspnea. Several common therapies were not effective. The characteristics of his clinical course and occupational history suggested that the asthma must be caused by exposure to dust containing metal generated in the factory. Skin Patch Tests (SPT) were performed for cobalt, copper, iron, chrome, tin, and manganese salt. The result of the SPT indicated a strong positive result for potassium dichromate and positive for chromium sulfate, but did not show any indications in the control or for other metallic salt. Fluorescent X-ray analysis detected that chrome was present in the powder dust under the stone-cutter machine. However, the fluorescent X-ray analysis did not detect chrome in the stone materials. It was suggested that chrome must be contained in the metal dust generated from the steel cutter used to cut off and grind the stone. The metal component in the used cutter edge and the unused cutter edge were analyzed with electro-probe microanalyzer (EPMA). The result revealed that chrome was contained in the used, dull cutter edge and not in the new sharp cutter edge. Thus, the patient had been exposed to the dust containing chrome generated from part of the stainless steel of cutter. He had sensitized to chrome and this had caused the occupational chrome-asthma.

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