Journal of Occupational Medicine and Toxicology. Vol. 10, Iss. 4, 6 February 2015
Pulmonary alveolar proteinosis induced by hydrofluoric acid exposure during fire extinguisher testing
Introduction Automatic fire suppression systems use hydrofluorocarbons (HF) to extinguish fires chemically. At high temperatures, HF can release hydrofluoric acid (HFA), a toxic, potentially lethal gas.
Case report A 52-year-old male visited our Pulmonary Division with dyspnea of 8-months duration. He had been working at a facility that manufactured fire extinguishers. Bronchoscopy was performed and a transbronchial lung biopsy was taken from the right lower lobe. After the patient was diagnosed with pulmonary alveolar proteinosis (PAP), whole-lung lavage was performed. In this case, fire extinguisher gas induced pulmonary alveolar proteinosis. This material should be used with care and investigated further.
Discussion HFA is corrosive and penetrates organic materials, including body tissues. Depending on the mode of exposure, skin ulceration, pulmonary injury, or even systemic shock can result. This report describes PAP that developed after chronic, repeated exposure to fire extinguisher spray. Hydrofluoric acid can induce pulmonary disorders such as PAP.