Context. Coating products are widely used for making surfaces water and dirt repellent. However, on several occasions the use of these products has been associated with lung toxicity. Objective. In the present study, we evaluated the toxic effects of an aerosolized tile-coating product. Methods. Thirty-nine persons, who reported respiratory and systemic symptoms following exposure to the tile-coating product, were clinically examined. The product was analysed chemically and furthermore, the exposure scenario was reconstructed using a climate chamber and the toxicological properties of the product were studied using in vivo and by in vitro surfactometry. Results. The symptoms developed within few hours and included coughing, tachypnoea, chest pain, general malaise and fever. The physical examination revealed perihilar lung infiltrates on chest radiograph and reduced blood oxygen saturation. The acute symptoms resolved gradually within 1-3 days and no delayed symptoms were observed. By means of mass spectrometry and X-ray spectroscopy, it was shown that the product contained non-fluorinated alkylsiloxanes. The exposure conditions in the supermarket were reconstructed under controlled conditions in a climate chamber and particle and gas exposure levels were monitored over time allowing estimation of human exposure levels. Mice exposed to the product developed symptoms of acute pulmonary toxicity in a concentration-and time-dependent manner. The symptoms of acute pulmonary toxicity likely resulted from inhibition of the pulmonary surfactant function as demonstrated by in vitro surfactometry. Among these patients only a partial association between the level of exposure and the degree of respiratory symptoms was observed, which could be because of a high inter-individual difference in sensitivity and time-dependent changes in the chemical composition of the aerosol. Conclusion. Workers need to cautiously apply surface coating products because the contents can be highly toxic through inhalation, and the aerosols can disperse to locations remote from the worksite and affect bystanders.
Clinical Toxicology, 2014, Vol 52, Issue 5, p. 498-505