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Characterization of clinical tolerance to inhaled zinc oxide in naive subjects and sheet metal workers.
Fine JM; Gordon T; Chen LC; Kinney P; Falcone G; Sparer J; Beckett WS
J Occup Environ Med 2000 Nov; 42(11):1085-1091
Clinical tolerance to the acute effects of zinc oxide inhalation develops in workers during periods of repeated exposure. The aims of this study were to determine whether clinical tolerance is accompanied by a reduction in the acute pulmonary inflammatory and cytokine responses to zinc oxide exposure and whether tolerance can be demonstrated in sheet metal workers who chronically inhale low levels of zinc oxide. Naive (never-exposed) subjects inhaled 5 mg/m3 zinc oxide on 1 or 3 days and underwent bronchoalveolar lavage 20 hours after the final exposure. Sheet metal workers inhaled zinc oxide on 1 day and control furnace gas on another day. Among naive subjects in whom tolerance was induced, bronchoalveolar lavage fluid percent neutrophils and interleukin-6 (IL-6) levels were significantly decreased compared with subjects who underwent only a single exposure. Sheet metal workers were much less symptomatic, but they still experienced a significant increase in plasma IL-6. The results indicate that clinical tolerance to zinc oxide is accompanied by reduced pulmonary inflammation and that chronically exposed sheet metal workers are not clinically affected by exposure to zinc oxide fume at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration Permissible Exposure Limit. The increase in IL-6 levels observed in the clinically responsive, and to a lesser extent, tolerant, states following zinc oxide inhalation is consistent with the dual role of IL-6 as a pyrogen and anti-inflammatory agent.
Zinc-compounds; Oxides; Metal-workers; Occupational-exposure; Workers; Work-environment; Pulmonary-system-disorders; Respiratory-system-disorders; Inhalants; Permissible-concentration-limits
Issue of Publication
Pulmonary System Disorders
Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine
Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut
Page last reviewed: May 5, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division