Irritant-induced asthma and RADS are related conditions that need further study focusing on the following questions: (1) Are there differences between the pathologic and functional features that follow single or multiple exposures to an irritant material? (2) What is the time course of the changes? (3) What are the physiologic correlates in terms of onset of airway hyperresponsiveness? (4) What are the risk markers (besides exposure)? (5) Are there means of modulating the reaction by using anti-inflammatory preparations? Developing an animal model of irritant-induced asthma and conducting prospective epidemiologic surveys in high-risk workers may be most effective routes to provide satisfactory answers to these questions. Further examination of the physiopathology of such conditions as byssinosis, grain-dust-induced respiratory disease, and aluminum potroom asthma as well as of the differences from and similarities to OA is also warranted.
Department of Chest Medicine, Sacré-Coeur Hospital, Montreal, Québec, Canada.