Occupational Asthma Reference

Das R, Blanc PD, Chlorine gas exposure and the lung: a review, Toxicology & Industrial Health, 1993;9:439-455,

Keywords: se, chlorine, chloramine, cleaner, review

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Paul Blanc, University of California San Francisco Paul Blanc

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We conducted a review of the literature detailing the respiratory effects of chlorine, an extremely important but toxic halogen. Historically, the heaviest mass inhalational exposures to chlorine resulted from World War I gassing. Currently potential human exposure to chlorine inhalation occurs in a variety of settings in the workplace, as a result of inadvertent environmental releases, and even in the home due to household cleaning mishaps. Chlorine species are highly reactive; tissue injury results from exposure to chlorine, hydrochloric acid, hypochlorous acid, or chloramines. Acute, high level exposure to chlorine gas in occupational or environmental settings results in a variety of dose-related lung effects ranging from respiratory mucus membrane irritation to pulmonary edema. Pulmonary function testing can reveal either obstructive or restrictive deficits immediately following exposure, with resolution over time in the majority of cases. However, some of those exposed may demonstrate long-term persistent obstructive or restrictive pulmonary deficits or increased nonspecific airway reactivity after high level exposure to chlorine gas. Symptoms and signs following inhalation of mixtures of chlorine-containing cleaners in the home are similar to those after occupational exposures and environmental releases. Although generally less severe, these events may be extremely common. Controlled human exposure data suggest that some subjects may be more responsive to the effects of chlorine gas; epidemiologic data also indicate that certain subpopulations (e.g., smokers) may be at greater risk of adverse outcome after chlorine inhalation. Although these findings are intriguing, additional study is needed to better delineate the risk factors that predispose toward the development of long-term pulmonary sequelae following chlorine gas exposure

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