Hypersensitivity pneumonitis associated with home ultrasonic humidifiers

Chest. 1995 Mar;107(3):711-7. doi: 10.1378/chest.107.3.711.


We describe five patients with hypersensitivity pneumonitis (HP) that was related to using home ultrasonic humidifiers. All patients had micronodular infiltrates on their chest radiograph, and their lung biopsy specimens revealed alveolitis with or without epithelioid cell granulomas. Challenge tests were performed on two patients with the humidifier water and three patients using the humidifier. All patients tested exhibited a positive response. Tests for precipitating antibodies against an extract of the humidifier water gave strongly positive reactions in all patients tested. Precipitins to Cephalosporium acremonium and Candida albicans were also present in all cases, whereas precipitins to thermophilic actinomycetes were not detected. Although cultures of the water grew a variety of fungal and bacterial organisms, thermophilic actinomycetes could not be detected. These findings suggest that thermophilic organisms may not be the causative antigens of HP associated with ultrasonic humidifiers. All five patients had an increase in the bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) lymphocytes that were predominantly CD4+ lymphocytes. The T helper cell count (CD4) to suppressor T cell count (CD8) ratio was significantly higher than that observed in summer-type HP, and lower than that observed in bird fancier's lung, indicating that the phenotypes of the BAL lymphocytes may vary with the type of HP.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Aged
  • Alveolitis, Extrinsic Allergic / etiology*
  • Alveolitis, Extrinsic Allergic / immunology
  • Antibodies, Fungal / isolation & purification
  • Bird Fancier's Lung / etiology
  • Bird Fancier's Lung / immunology
  • Bronchoalveolar Lavage Fluid
  • Candida / immunology
  • Humans
  • Humidity*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Ultrasonics


  • Antibodies, Fungal