Metal Fume Fever
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metal fume fever[′med·əl ‚fyüm ′fē·vər]
Metal Fume Fever
foundryman’s fever, brass-founder’s fever, an occupational disorder that arises upon inhalation of the vapors of various metals, such as zinc, copper, brass, and iron.
Metal fume fever begins with chills, elevated body temperature (to 39°C), a feeling of tightness and pain in the chest, headache, dizziness, general weakness, and dry cough. All of the symptoms usually disappear when contact with the harmful factor is discontinued. It is thought that in the body, metallic vapors (for example, of zinc) rapidly convert to their oxide, which, because of its high dispersability, penetrates deeply into the respiratory tract. Since it carries a high electric charge, the oxide bonds with cell proteins and causes their denaturation. When absorbed into the blood, the altered proteins cause the onset of the fever. Experimental investigations and observations have shown that after a bout of metal fume fever, patients enjoy a temporary “immunity,” during which they appear to be more resistant to the harmful factor. However, frequently recurring attacks may lead to cachexia.
Metal fume fever is treated with bed rest, cardiac agents, and intravenous administration of glucose. Antibiotics are used when secondary infection is suspected. The disorder can be prevented by improving working conditions in industry. Jobs associated with electric welding and with metal smelting and teeming should be conducted in separate premises equipped with general intake and exhaust ventilation. Individual respirators and protective clothing should be used. A hot shower is obligatory after work.
IA. O. OL’SHANSKII