Occupational lung disease

Lung disease can occur when a person is exposed to high levels of fungal spores and proteins in the course of their work, for example:

  • Via contaminated raw materials (e.g. wood chippings, domestic waste)
  • Industrial production of enzymes for detergents (Green and Beezhold, 2011)
  • Workers in offices affected by damp and ventilation problems
  • Agricultural workers and soldiers may be at risk of implantation mycoses from thorns
  • Construction workers handling large quantities or bird/bat guano without appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) may inhale enough dimorphic fungal spores to cause serious lung infections (e.g. Histoplasmosis)
  • Health or beauty sector workers may be exposed to fungal infections of the skin, hair and nails (Occupational Safety and Health Administration, US Government)

The most common lung diseases linked to fungal exposure at work, include hypersensitivity pneumonitis or extrinsic allergic alveolitis, asthma and community-acquired pneumonia (rare). About 30% of cases of adult-onset asthma are linked to working conditions. Fungal exposure can exacerbate asthma leaving it poorly controlled and requiring hospitalisation.

For more information on occupational hypersensitivity pneumonitis (a Th1-mediated immune response) please refer to the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology position paper (Quirce et al, 2014) or the guides by NIH and Medscape. For general information about hypersensitivity pneumonitis please see this Nature primer by Costabel et al (2020)

For a review on occupational asthma (Th2 response) please see Kim et al (2016) or Tarlo and Lemiere (2014).

Condiciones de la industria

Nombre de la enfermedadHongos implicadosProceso
Pulmón del granjeroPenicillium brevicompactum/ olivicolorRemover o almacenar heno húmedo, manejar balas para alimentar el ganado, trillar grano contaminado con hongos
Pulmón de los cultivadores de hongosAgaricus bisporusPleurotus osteatusLentinus edodesExposición en naves de cultivo
Pulmón de los trabajadores de la maltaAspergillus clavatusManipulación de grano
SuberosisPenicillium glabrum (previamente P. frequentans)Almacenamiento de corcho húmedo y caliente
Pulmón de los manipuladores de la corteza del arceCryptospora corticaleRetirada de la corteza de troncos de arce
SequoiosisAureobasidium pullulansExposición al serrín contaminado
Pulmón de los trabajadores de la pulpa de maderaAlternaria spp.Exposición a la pulpa contaminada
Pulmón de los viticultoresBotrytis cinereaExposición a vides contaminadas con el hongo
Pulmón de los lavadores de quesoPenicillium casei/P. roqueforteLimpieza de la capa de hongos que cubre el queso
Pulmón de los trabajadores del tabacoAspergillus fumigatusManipulación de tabaco contaminado
Summer-type hypersensitivity pneumonitisTrichosporon cutaneumDamp wood and mats
Peat moss worker’s lungPenicillium citreonigrumPeat moss
Paprika-slicer’s lungMucor stoloniferPaprika
Humidified lungRhodotorulaHumidifiers
Food processor’s lungPenicillium verrucosum, P. camembertiFood processors
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