Case report

Scand J Work Environ Health 2009;35(6):475-478    pdf | Published online: 02 Oct 2009, Issue date: 00 Dec 2009

Occupational asthma caused by inhalation of surfactant composed of amines

by Villar-Gómez A, Muñoz X, Culebras M, Morell F, Cruz M-J

Objective Occupational asthma (OA) is highly prevalent in industrialized countries and nearly 400 causal agents of this condition have been described to date. This study aims to describe the case of a patient who developed OA secondary to exposure to a surfactant agent comprised of alkylamine ethoxylate and a mixture of alkyleneoxy and ethylenediamine.

Methods We present the case of a male worker in the meat industry suffering from OA resulting from exposure to a surfactant agent used to clean the animal carcass before it is quartered. We performed various tests on the individual, including: a chest computed tomography; total serum immunoglobulin E (IgE) and specific IgE tests against common pneumoallergens; pulmonary function studies; a methacholine test; and a specific inhalation challenge to the surfactant agent.

Results The tests confirmed the diagnosis of OA.

Conclusions We discuss whether the amines present in the surfactant or the agent itself might be the cause of the condition. Because of the extensive use of surfactants in several types of industries, it is reasonable to think that their possible relationship with OA may have relevant health implications.

This article refers to the following text of the Journal: 2001;27(1):76-81