Persistent and Unusual Respiratory Findings after Prolonged Glutaraldehyde Exposure

S Copeland, K Nugent


Glutaraldehyde is commonly used in endoscopy labs to clean and disinfect instruments. It can cause direct irritation of the skin and the upper and lower airways. Health care workers are also at risk for the development of irritant-induced or sensitizer-induced occupational asthma when exposed to this chemical. Herein, we report on a patient who had frequent exposures to glutaraldehyde over one year while working in an endoscopy lab and developed chronic upper and lower respiratory tract symptoms. Multiple spirometric tests during her evaluation revealed variable results including restrictive pattern with a response to bronchodilators, obstructive pattern with a paradoxic bronchoconstrictive response to bronchodilators, and obstructive pattern with a partial response to bronchodilators. These results indicate that the distribution of inflammation and bronchial responsiveness can vary in a single patient with glutaraldehyde-induced occupational asthma. Therefore, the evaluation may be more difficult than might be expected in patients with occupational asthma, and some patients will need multiple pulmonary function tests to characterize their airway disease.


Glutaral; Asthma, occupational; Occupational exposure; Inhalational exposure; Health personnel

doi: 10.15171/ijoem.2015.532

 pISSN: 2008-6520
 eISSN: 2008-6814

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