New-Onset and Exacerbation of Lung Diseases after Short-Term Exposures to Humidifier Disinfectant during Hospitalization

Toxics. 2022 Jul 4;10(7):371. doi: 10.3390/toxics10070371.


(1) Background: Humidifier disinfectant (HD) is a biocidal chemical to keep the water tank inside a humidifier clean. Thousands of Koreans have experienced HD-related lung injuries. Of them, 6.9% were exposed to HD in hospitals. (2) Methods: This study investigated changes of diseases in patients (or caregivers) who experienced HD exposures during hospitalization and also investigated characteristics of hospital exposure using data from all HD-related lung injury enrollment in Korea. (3) Results: Of a total of 162 subjects, 139 subjects were hospitalized for non-lung diseases, and 23 people were hospitalized for lung diseases at the time of hospitalization. During hospital exposure, 99 (71.2%) of those hospitalized with non-lung disease experienced a new-onset of lung disease, and 15 (65.2%) of those hospitalized with lung diseases experienced exacerbation of their existing lung diseases. When we compared their exposure characteristics, those exposed in hospitals (vs. non-hospital, mostly home) were exposed for shorter periods, at closer distances, at higher HD indoor concentrations, constantly all day, and directly in the facial direction. (4) Conclusion: In conclusion, HD exposures in hospital with a high intensity even for a short term were associated with new-onset or exacerbation of lung diseases. Our findings suggest that acute exposures to HD can cause lung diseases.

Keywords: CMIT/MIT; PGH; PHMG; hospital exposure; humidifier disinfectants; lung disease; short-term exposure.

Grant support

This research received no external funding.