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Pulmonary effects of acute exposure to sulfur tetrafluoride during electrical cable repair work.

Kraut A; Lilis R
Proceedings of the VIIth International Pneumoconioses Conference, August 23-26, 1988, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 90-108, 1990 Nov; (Pt II):1340-1343
Pulmonary effects resulting from acute exposure to sulfur- tetrafluoride (7783600) were described. Six electrical workers began experiencing shortness of breath, chest tightness, nose and eye irritation, productive cough, and headache 1 hour after beginning repair work on an underground electrical cable. The cable had been damaged as a result of a burnout at a nearby substation 4 days earlier. Two workers also felt nauseous and one vomited. The symptoms tended to resolve when the work was interrupted in an attempt to identify the problem. After sulfur-tetrafluoride was identified in air samples taken from the partially opened pipe at the worksite the workers went to emergency rooms. Five were discharged a few hours later. The sixth was hospitalized because of headache and a cough that produced blood streaked sputum. A chest X- ray revealed three discrete areas of atelectasis. The patient was treated with bronchodilators and antibiotics. The headache and cough persisted for more than 1 week. All six workers were given physical examinations that included chest X-rays and pulmonary function tests 10 days to 2 weeks after the incident. Hazy infiltrates were found in the lower lung fields of two workers. Three workers revealed reversible decreases in forced vital capacity and 1 second forced expiratory volume. Follow up pulmonary function testing and chest X-rays 10 to 21 days later were normal. The authors conclude that the respiratory symptoms experienced by the workers were due to exposure to sulfur-tetrafluoride. Recommendations for preventing future accidents were presented and included conducting comprehensive air tests before beginning repair work, having knowledgeable individuals on hand for on site consultation if needed, and having suitable respiratory equipment available at the worksite.
Occupational accidents; Case studies; Irritant gases; Sulfur compounds; Fluorides; Respiratory system disorders; Clinical symptoms; Chest X rays; Pulmonary function tests; Electrical workers; Confined spaces
Publication Date
Document Type
Conference/Symposia Proceedings
Fiscal Year
Identifying No.
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 90-108
Source Name
Proceedings of the VIIth International Pneumoconioses Conference, August 23-26, 1988, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA
Page last reviewed: June 15, 2021
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division