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Canadian Respiratory Journal
Volume 6, Issue 2, Pages 194-196
Case Report

Occupational Neutrophilic Asthma

Richard Leigh and Frederick E Hargreave

Asthma Research Group, Department of Medicine, St Joseph’s Hospital and McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

Copyright © 1999 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Occupational asthma is typically associated with an eosinophilic bronchitis. The case of a 41-year-old woman who developed symptoms of asthma after occupational exposure to metal working fluids is reported. The diagnosis of asthma was confirmed by an forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV1) of 1.7 (59% predicted), with 11% reversibility after inhaled bronchodilator and a provocation concentration of methacholine to cause a fall in FEV1 of 20% (PC20) of 0.4 mg/mL. Induced sputum examination showed a marked neutrophilia. Over the next six months, serial sputum analyses confirmed the presence of a marked sterile neutrophilic bronchitis during periods of occupational exposure to metal working fluids, which resolved when the patient was away from work and recurred when she returned to work. The sputum findings were mirrored by corresponding changes in spirometry and PC20 methacholine. The findings indicate the occurrence of occupational asthma associated with an intense, sterile neutrophilic bronchitis after exposure to metal working fluids.