Aluminium potroom asthma confirmed by monitoring of forced expiratory volume in one second

Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 1994 Dec;150(6 Pt 1):1714-7. doi: 10.1164/ajrccm.150.6.7952639.


Chronic airflow obstruction has long been seen among aluminium potroom workers. Currently referred to as "potroom asthma," it is debatable as to whether it is occupational asthma or nonspecific airway obstruction. A 35-yr-old male lifelong nonsmoker, with no history of asthma or atopy, was hired by an aluminium plant that had begun its operation in 1986. Preemployment screening, consisting of spirometry and a chest radiograph, was normal. During his 12-h shifts, he replaced 10 to 20 anodes (prebake type), spending 5 min each time close to open pots releasing hot fumes. The patient experienced episodes of cough and dyspnea, which were resolved during withdrawal from work in January and December 1991. He resumed work in the potrooms in March 1992, his dyspnea recurred at work and at night with 25% drops in peak expiratory flow rates (PEFR), associated with mild-to-moderate bronchial hyperresponsiveness (PC20 histamine, 1.0 mg/ml). After a chest physician's assessment, he was withdrawn from the potroom department. Assessment of the bronchial response to the occupational exposure in potrooms carried out in November 1992 revealed a pattern of dual asthmatic response, paralleled by a drop in PC20 methacholine from 5.1 to 0.7 mg/ml. A similar pattern was seen again during repeat workplace challenges 3 wk later. Spirometry obtained on control days was stable. We conclude that asthmatic reactions can exist among workers in aluminium smelters.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aluminum / adverse effects*
  • Asthma / chemically induced
  • Asthma / physiopathology*
  • Forced Expiratory Volume
  • Humans
  • Lung Diseases, Obstructive / chemically induced
  • Lung Diseases, Obstructive / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Monitoring, Physiologic
  • Occupational Diseases / chemically induced
  • Occupational Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Spirometry
  • Time Factors


  • Aluminum