Härkönen H, Nordman H, Korhonen O, Winblad I
The lung function of 7 men accidentally exposed to sulfur dioxide (SO2) in a pyrite dust explosion was followed for 4 yr. The greatest decrease in forced vital capacity, forced expiratory volume in one second, and maximal midexpiratory flow was observed 1 wk after the accident. After about 3 months no further decrement occurred. The pattern of spirometric findings was obstructive in 6 and restrictive in 1 of the patients. Four years after the accident a reversible obstruction of the bronchi was still observable in 3. Four patients reacted positively to the histamine challenge test. Two patients either did not respond to bronchodilator or did not react to histamine. The results suggest that bronchial hyperreactivity is a frequent sequela after exposure to high concentrations of SO2. The hyperreactivity may persist for several years.