Chronic asthma due to toluene diisocyanate

Chest. 1986 Oct;90(4):494-9. doi: 10.1378/chest.90.4.494.


Twelve subjects were studied with inhalation challenge testing to toluene diisocyanate (TDI) because of suspected TDI asthma based on a consistent clinical and occupational history. In seven cases, TDI asthma was documented by a positive inhalation challenge to low levels of TDI. Six of the seven TDI reactors had persistent respiratory symptoms and required daily treatment even though they had been removed from isocyanate exposure for intervals as long as 12 years (mean 4.5 years). These six TDI reactors had either dual (four cases) or late bronchospasm (two cases) to less than 20 ppb TDI, and all had a positive methacholine or cold air challenge prior to study. The one TDI reactor with a negative methacholine challenge had a positive (immediate) bronchospastic response to a TDI challenge performed one week after removal from isocyanate exposure. Five workers had a negative TDI challenge, two of whom had persistent respiratory symptoms and positive methacholine challenges at the time of TDI inhalation testing. We conclude that respiratory symptoms may persist following long-term removal from occupational exposure to TDI and are associated with nonspecific bronchial hyperreactivity. The TDI sensitivity may also persist for a long time even in the absence of any additional occupational exposure. Long-term prospective studies of symptomatic isocyanate workers are needed to fully define the extent of this problem.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Asthma / chemically induced*
  • Asthma / diagnosis
  • Chronic Disease
  • Cyanates / adverse effects*
  • Forced Expiratory Volume
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Prognosis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Time Factors
  • Toluene 2,4-Diisocyanate / adverse effects*
  • Vital Capacity


  • Cyanates
  • Toluene 2,4-Diisocyanate