Metal fume fever occurs after heavy exposure to zinc oxide fume or dust, e.g., after welding or flame cutting of galvanized steel, high temperature zinc coating processes, or metal pouring in brass foundries. (Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc.) After an episode, there is a temporary period of tolerance for a day or two. [Harber, p. 245] Copper and magnesium fume can also cause metal fume fever. [LaDou, p. 323] It is important to distinguish metal fume fever from cadmium pneumonitis. Zinc fume appears white, while cadmium fume appears yellow. [Rosenstock, p. 955] Polymer fume fever occurs after a heavy exposure to the pyrolysis products of polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE, trade names Fluon, Teflon, Halon). The pyrolysis products are the result of PTFE being heated to 300 degrees C. When PTFE is heated above 450 degrees C., different pyrolysis products are formed that may cause acute lung injury if controls to enclose the fume have not been installed. [Rom, p. 412-3] "Infiltrates on the chest radiograph can occur with neutrophilia and hypoxemia that can mimic acute pneumonia or acute hypersensitivity pneumonitis." Workers usually have complete resolution of symptoms within 24-48 hours. Symptoms become milder with daily repeated exposures. [Cecil, p. 576] See "Inhalation fever, bioaerosols." See "Hypersensitivity pneumonitis."
REFERENCES FOR CASES/YEAR
1. (US) No data found; Guesstimate: 5000 cases/year;
2. (Global) 20 X US cases/yr;