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Archives of environmental health

Chronic ammonia inhalation and interstitial pulmonary fibrosis: a case report and review of the literature.


PMID 15369278

Abstract

Ammonia is an irritant gas with a characteristic pungent odor, which is widely used in industry. Inasmuch as ammonia is highly soluble in water and, upon inhalation, is deposited in the upper airways, occupational exposures to ammonia have commonly been associated with sinusitis, upper airway irritation, and eye irritation. Acute exposures to high levels of ammonia have also been associated with diseases of the lower airways and interstitial lung. In this study, the authors report on a patient with long-term, repetitive occupational exposure to ammonia at levels at or above odor recognition who developed interstitial lung disease. The scientific literature on inhaled ammonia exposure is reviewed and discussed. The authors conclude that the taking of a careful occupational exposure history for patients presenting with shortness of breath associated with ammonia exposure may assist with an early diagnosis, thus allowing for treatment early in the disease process and prevention of further exposure.