Revue des Maladies Respiratoires vol:26 issue:8 pages:867-885
Acute or subacute chemical-induced lung injury is rarely compound specific and is most often caused by an accidental occupational, domestic or environmental exposure to an inhaled chemical agent. The industrial disaster that happened in Bhopal in 1984, accidental poisoning with chlorine and petroleum hydrocarbons and also vesicant gases used during conflicts, are specific examples. Rarely, a chemical agent can cause lung damage by being ingested and reaching the lung through the systemic circulation (for example accidental or deliberate paraquat ingestion). Household accidents should not be underestimated. An important cause of household accidents is chlorine inhalation resulting from mixing bleach with acids such as the scale removers used to clean toilets. Chemical agents can provoke direct and/or indirect damage to the respiratory tract. The acute or subacute clinical manifestations resulting from inhalation of chemical agents are very varied and include inhalation fevers, acute non-cardiogenic pulmonary oedema, adult respiratory distress syndrome, reactive airways dysfunction syndrome and acute or subacute pneumonitis. The site and the severity of chemical-induced respiratory damage caused by inhaled chemical agents depend mainly on the nature and the amount of the agent inhaled. The immediate and long-term prognosis and possible sequelae are also variable. This review excludes infectious or immunologically induced acute respiratory diseases.