The Spectrum of Respiratory Disease Associated With Exposure to Metal Working Fluids

J Occup Environ Med. 1998 Jul;40(7):640-7. doi: 10.1097/00043764-199807000-00010.


Occupational respiratory diseases have been reported following exposure to metal working fluids. We report a spectrum of respiratory illnesses occurring in an outbreak in 30 workers of an automobile parts engine manufacturing plant. Workers presented with respiratory complaints and, after clinical and laboratory evaluations, were classified as those having hypersensitivity pneumonitis, occupational asthma, or industrial bronchitis, or those without occupational lung disease. Hypersensitivity pneumonitis affected seven workers, with six exhibiting serum precipitins to Acinetobacter Iwoffii. Occupational asthma and industrial bronchitis affected 12 and six workers, respectively. Oil-mist exposures were below current recommendations. Gram-negative bacteria, but no fungi, Thermophiles, or Legionella, were identified. Although specific agents responsible for each individual case could not be identified, probably both specific sensitizing agents and non-specific irritants from metal working fluids, additives, or contaminants contributed to this spectrum of occupational respiratory illness.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Air Microbiology
  • Alveolitis, Extrinsic Allergic / epidemiology
  • Alveolitis, Extrinsic Allergic / etiology
  • Asthma / epidemiology
  • Asthma / etiology
  • Automobiles
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Epidemiological Monitoring
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Metals / adverse effects*
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology
  • Occupational Diseases / etiology*
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects
  • Oils / adverse effects*
  • Oils / analysis
  • Prognosis
  • Respiratory Function Tests
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases / epidemiology
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases / etiology*
  • Risk Factors


  • Metals
  • Oils