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Korean J Prev Med. 1998 Aug;31(3):414-423. Korean. Original Article.
Lim HS , Cheong HK .
Department of Preventive Medicine, College of Medicine, dongguk University, Korea.
Abstract

Metal fume fever has been known as an occupational disease is induced by intense inhalation of fresh metal fume with a particle size smaller than 0.5 nm to 1 nm. The fumes originate from heating metals beyond their boiling point, as happens, for example, in welding operations. Oxidation usually accompanies this process. In most cases, this syndrome is due to exposure to zinc oxide fumes; however, other metals like copper, magnesium, cadmium, manganese, and antimony are also reported to produce such reactions. Authors report a case of metal fume fever suspected to be associated with copper fume inhalation. The patient was a 42-year-old male and was a smoker. He conducted inert gas tungsten arc welding on copper-coated materials without safety precautions such as a protective mask and adequate ventilation. Immediately after work, he felt metallic taste in his mouth. A few hours after welding, he developed headache, chilling sensation, and chest discomfort. He also complained of myalgia, arthralgia, feverish sensation, thirst, and general weakness. Symptoms worsened after repeated copper welding on the next day and subsided gradually following two weeks. Laboratory examination showed a transient increase of neutrophil count, eosinophilia, elevated erythrocyte sedimentation rate, and positive C-reactive proteinemia. Blood and urine copper level was also increased compared to his wife. Before this episode, he experienced above complaints several times after welding with copper materials but welding of other metals did not produce any symptoms. It was suggested that copper fume would have induced metal fume fever in this case. Further investigations are needed to clarify their pathogenic mechanisms.

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