2016 Volume 58 Issue 5 Pages 482-488
Objectives: Occupational exposure to paraffin is an infrequent cause of lipoid pneumonia (LP) and related data are scare. We investigated the possible relationship between three rare cases of chronic LP and occupational exposure to paraffin aerosol in an iron foundry. Methods: The three cases of LP and their workplaces were investigated using data from field investigations, air monitoring, pulmonary radiological examinations, cell staining, and lung biopsies. Results: The patients had long-term occupational exposure to paraffin. X-ray diffraction testing revealed that the raw material from the workshop was paraffin crystal. The air concentrations of paraffin aerosol in workplaces were significantly higher than outdoor background levels. Small diffuse and miliary shadows with unclear edges were observed throughout the whole lungs via radiography. Computed tomography revealed diffuse punctate nodules and a high density of stripe-like shadows in both lungs (ground-glass opacity in a lower lobe, and a mass-like lesion and high translucent area near the bottom of the lung). Lipid-laden macrophages were found in the sputum and bronchial lavage. A broadened alveolar septum and local focal fibrosis were also discovered via lung biopsy. The inflammatory reaction in the lung tissues appeared to resolve over time. Conclusions: These three rare cases of chronic LP in workers during molding and repair processes were associated with occupational paraffin aerosol exposure. Therefore, primary prevention is essential for molding or repairing workers in the iron foundry, and a differential diagnosis of occupational chronic LP (vs. pneumoconiosis) should be considered when treating these workers.
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