In industrialized countries, inhalational exposure to various industrial chemicals is commonplace,
with acute lung injury from industrial chemicals increasing in parallel to industrialization. Most
acute toxic inhalation, both in industrial and home settings, is due directly to leaks or spills or
indirectly to reaction products such as nitrogen dioxide and phosgene. Acute pulmonary parenchymal
injuries range from mild pneumonitis to acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). The main factors that determine the
severity of injury after inhalation of irritant gases are their water solubility and exposure levels. Water soluble irritants
(e.g., ammonia and sulfur dioxide) generally result in upper airway injury, whereas water-insoluble irritants such as
phosgene and nitrogen dioxide may cause damage to lower airways and alveoli. Cadmium and mercury can also cause
acute lung injury. This review describes the industrial chemicals primarily responsible for acute lung injuries, and their
clinical manifestations and exposure scenarios.
Keywords: Acute lung injury, ARDS, pulmonary edema, heavy metals, gas.
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